Acton Institute Powerblog

The New Space Capitalists

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After SpaceShipOne was awarded the Ansari X Prize last year, Paul G. Allen became "the best-known member of a growing club of high-tech thrillionaires, including the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who find themselves with money enough to fulfill their childhood fascination with space," reports John Schwartz in today’s New York Times.

The success of private space flight is built on the broken dreams of the government’s space program. Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, a co-founder of the X Prize, says, "There is sufficient wealth controlled by individuals to start serious space efforts." But under NASA’s tenure, "The dreams and expectations that Apollo launched for all these entrepreneurs have failed to materialize. And in fact, those who look into it realize that the cost of going into space has gone up and the reliability has, effectively, gone down."

This article in The New Atlantis by Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, a space advocacy group, "Getting Space Exploration Right," gives an excellent in-depth review of NASA’s shortcomings over the last thirty years. Unfortunately, Zubrin does little to discuss the possibilities of private initiative in space flight.

As shown by the success of the Ansari X Prize, NASA is not the only option. You can read my further reflections on the implications of space travel here, "Stewards of the Cosmos."

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, where he also serves as executive editor the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary. He has authored articles in academic publications such as The Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, and Journal of Scholarly Publishing, and has written popular pieces for newspapers including the Detroit News, Orange County Register, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In 2006, Jordan was profiled in the book, The Relevant Nation: 50 Activists, Artists And Innovators Who Are Changing The World Through Faith. Jordan's scholarly interests include Reformation studies, church-state relations, theological anthropology, social ethics, theology and economics, and research methodology. Jordan is a member of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), and he resides in Jenison, Michigan with his wife and three children.

Comments

  • Elon Musk is noted as the founder of PayPal. He was not. He is the founder of X.com which merged with PayPal. Musk became a non-executive board member at PayPal.

    JBP

  • Thanks JBP, I have noted other articles ([url=http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2003-04-15-entre_x.htm]USA TODAY[/url], [url=http://www.spacex.com/profiles.php]et al.[/url]) that say he “co-founded” PayPal, was formerly the largest shareholder of the company, and served as PayPal’s chairman and CEO. The source of the graphic is the NYT story linked to above.

  • Next stop…Last week, it was reported that NASA’s budget is so thin that it puts “America’s leadership in scientific research is at risk.” (Last year’s NASA budget was around $16 billion, give or take a few hundred million.)