Silicon Valley and the commercialization of space

95XaeroAPlumeSan Francisco's public television station KQED produced a half-hour documentary on the private efforts to commercialize space. The program focuses on Silicon Valley-based concerns like reusable rocket maker Masten Space Systems (image of their Xaero spacecraft above) and microsatellite developer Skybox Imaging. Also appearing is BB pal Steve Jurvetson, happy mutant venture capitalist and a board member at space transport company SpaceX. In fact, I ran into Steve at a model rocketry meet on Saturday -- the man really digs rockets! You can watch the KQED documentary, "Silicon Valley Goes To Space," in full below.

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  1. The commercialization of space seems like a great idea, compared to abandoning it altogether. But I wonder if the day will come when we compare it to the EM spectrum, and wonder when the public lost control of such an important resource.

    There will be functions only government can perform, such as tracking a million objects and making sure they don't collide. Will we tax the users appropriately? Or will we all share the burden from which only a few reap the profits?

  2. thaum says:

    What about this function necessitates the need for government here?

  3. The fact that, like many government functions, it provides a public good without an opportunity for profit. Do you see a way for OrbiTrac Inc to offer this service for a price, or let your space station - and staff - be blown to smithereens by a wrench at 660 mph? What price would the Invisible Hand set for avoiding violent death? There are very good reasons we don't privatize the Fire Department or the Army.

  4. thaum says:

    I'm sure people would pay for that service given the consequences you describe.

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