Last week, SpaceX successfully launched its Dragon Capsule and docked it at the International Space Station. They are the first private company to ever send a spacecraft to the ISS. It’s a historic moment, a definite cause for celebration. This marks the beginning of a new era of corporate space exploration. But is the corporate take over of space a good thing?
Space exploration should be motivated by our sense of wonder. We should do this not because of greed but because we want to learn more about the universe we live in, want to see it and experience it in all its beauty. As humanity spreads across the stars, I hope we retain the romantic ideals espoused by science fiction like Star Trek.
Elon Musk, the CEO and Chief Designer at SpaceX, reportedly wants his company to someday take people to Mars and other planets in the Solar System. I’d love nothing more than to see him succeed. But I remember a science fiction movie where the first spaceship to land on Mars was plastered with ads like something out of NASCAR. American commercialism has a way of cheapening things, and I worry about that.
Money is what makes our society work. Maybe by turning space exploration over to the private sector, we can return to the Moon, go to Mars, and eventually leave our Solar System a little sooner. After all, Congress has cut NASA’s budget so much they can’t even afford their own Space Shuttle. If NASA can’t do this, someone else has to take their place.
What do you think? Are you glad the private sector is taking over space exploration?