Space: the corporate frontier?

I have always been a sci-fi geek. Ever since my dad sat me down to my first episode of Star Trek I was hooked. Of course, space travel isn’t anything like our favourite sci-fi series or movies and for most of us it is out of reach, at least for now.

The good news, at least for those looking to one day break orbit, the push toward commercial space travel is ramping up. I wrote the other day about the opening of the first commercial spaceport, but this week there is an even more exciting announcement – space habitats.

Bigelow Aerospace is developing an idea for space outposts. If successful, these leased orbital stations will be the first privately-owned habitable space structures. That, of course, has its positives and negatives. On the positive side, it will boost access and make space available to more people (albeit the ridiculously rich). On the downside, it will turn space into a commodity, which is contrary to my Star Trekesque view of space travel and colonization. For some reason I see the cosmos as something that should remain free and, once the technology advances sufficiently, is available to everyone. unfortunately, monetizing space is likely unavoidable for the time being. It will take money to get there and the corporate community might be the best suited to develop space travel technology so it becomes more common place,  something government has failed to accomplish.

But, once we stake claims and capitalize space is there turning back? Will the galaxy one day become the altruistic frontier I think it should? Or are we on the road to a corporate dystopia?

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