Long ago, if you didn’t have the blessing of the Church to do something, it probably wouldn’t get done.  Later, you had to go to the king.  Today, if you have a difficult project, you need the help of a corporation.  Like it or not, we live in the era of capitalism.

Earlier this year, President Obama decided NASA should rely more on the private sector.  As you may have heard, there’s a recession going on, and the government is in debt, so a lot of government agencies are being asked (politely, I’m sure) to cut spending.

At first, I didn’t like this idea.  I pictured astronauts wearing spacesuits that looked like NASCAR jackets raising the flag of Coca Cola on Mars.  But maybe private companies are better qualified to lead us into space; they do almost everything else for us.

On December 8th, Space X (Space Exploration Technologies Corp.) launched one of its Dragon capsules into orbit and successfully returned it to Earth, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.  This was a test flight with no crew in the capsule, but soon Space X hopes to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.  They already have a contract to deliver cargo.

For good or evil, Corporate America will take the next great step for Man into outer space.  That’s why I’m choosing the changes at NASA as the #1 science story of the year.  Whatever happens next will be great material for science fiction.

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