Private sector invades space

Jimmy Skaaland, Staff Writer

 

                Now that the SpaceX’s” Dragon,” a privately built and funded capsule, has been launched into space to deliver supplies and eventually astronauts to the International Space Station, many others in the private sector are looking into ways to make money off of the last unexplored frontier.  Private space companies have long talked about ferrying goods for NASA, but this is the first time one is actually follow through and successfully made the journey.  After facing enormous budget cuts, NASA will no longer be launching its own rockets into space but instead of giving up on the exploration of space they have been able to market it for companies to consider such ventures profitable. 

                Deliveries for NASA are not the only money making ventures out in space, so how might a company make money from the abyss we know so little about you ask?   Well first there is tourism. Since 2002, four tourists have shelled out about $20 million each to ride into space aboard a Russian Soyuz craft. The Russians recently said they had raised the ticket price by $1 million and that all seats were booked for the next two years.  Next there is advertising; the Russian Space Program has allowed advertisers to plaster logos on the side of their rockets for undisclosed amounts promoting everything from Pizza Hut to golf clubs.  Lastly, and possibly the most profitable venture, it has been speculated since the 60’s that there is a very real possibility of obtaining precious medals from asteroids.  The thought behind this is that all metals, compounds, and gems on earth arrived from space in the form of asteroids, so instead of just mining a rapidly diminishing supply of here on earth why not go out into space and harness asteroids carrying such materials and bring them to us.  Though the thought of this has been around for half a century no company has launched a vehicle with the intention or capabilities to do so but several are in the research and development process of creating technology to do so.

                Though NASA is no longer getting adequate funding to explore space by themselves it is great to see the private sector stepping up to fill some of the void we will be missing without NASA.