Visionaries of commercial spaceflight
by Patricia C. Hynes, Ph.D
|There are encouraging signs that the US and many other industry players have recognized that it’s time for a renewed effort in this final frontier.|
Since the 1990s there has been a growing recognition that the United States needs to redouble its efforts in space. Experts say the US should increase its capacity and access to space for multiple purposes, including point-to-point travel, cargo delivery, and research payloads. A July 2008 front page Washington Post article summed it up clearly, “U.S. Finds It’s Getting Crowded Out There: Dominance in Space Slips as Other Nations Step Up Efforts”.
But there are encouraging signs that the US and many other industry players have recognized that it’s time for a renewed effort in this final frontier. For example, New Mexico is emerging as a key hub for personal and commercial space travel. The New Mexico Space Grant Consortium is a focal point for leading-edge developments in personal and commercial spaceflight.
New Mexico is also the home of Spaceport America, the nation’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, designed with the needs of the commercial space business in mind. And New Mexico’s importance as a center for personal commercial spaceflight is highlighted by its October 21-28 “Space Week” featuring the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) conference, the Leonard R. Sugerman Public Forum on the business of space, and the Global Spaceport Federation meeting.
From policymakers of bipartisan stripes, including Newt Gingrich and Al Gore, to entrepreneurs such as Virgin’s Richard Branson, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, SpaceX’s Elon Musk, and Lockheed Martin Space Systems’ Joanne Maguire, many of today’s top thought-leaders have called for increased investment in personal and commercial spaceflight and suborbital travel.
The “space scape” today is clear: A growing number of nations and companies have identified areas of real-time profit in personal and commercial spaceflight. The International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight acts as a key clearinghouse to examine, discuss, debate, and further the business of this exciting and dynamic industry.