Being a fan of the sci-fi “good old stuff” I am familiar with Robert Heinlein’s classic 1949 novel The Man Who Sold the Moon. In this story the “robber baron” Delos David Harriman uses his considerable talents to bring about the first moon landing (in 1978). Unlike the real first moon landing, the government was not involved-it was a private venture. In Heinlein’s future history, this is a critical event that sets humanity one step farther down the path to the stars.
While I routinely get accused of being a leftist socialist who hates private enterprise, I rather like Heinlein’s novel and I do agree with the basic premise that our future in space depends significantly on the pragmatic dreamers of the private sector who have the right stuff (a combination of vision and talent) to see the future and to make it so. While I lack business and technical skills, I do share the dream of a future in space and have consistently offered my meager words in support of such endeavors.
As might be suspected, I have been following SpaceX closely. I was disappointed when the first launch did not go off as planned, but I was happy that SpaceX makes much better rockets than North Korea. Naturally, I was very happy to hear that Falcon 9 put the Dragon spacecraft into orbit and I hope that it is able to dock with the international space station. The success of Space X would mean that we would no longer be dependent on the Russians (that has been a disgrace to the United States) and, more importantly, it shows that commercial space operations could be viable.
I had worried that the vision of a future in space had been lost, but SpaceX and other ventures certainly help keep my hope alive.