251. SPACE: UNREALISTIC DREAM OR ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY?
We've previously covered the possibilities of strong economic growth in the near future through exploiting space, emphasising the point that space may be a large part of what will allow economic prosperity post peak oil.
Many in the peak oil community naturally still reject any notion of space providing for a bright future. After all, Apollo was over 30 years ago and we still don't have moon bases, lately we have barely managed the maintain manned space flight, we don't have any solar powered satellites meeting our energy needs, and we don't see massive lobbying and investment into the space business, right? So how can this space stuff be anything but a dream?
At least this seems to be the line of thinking for many people, and certainly an aspect of the doomer mentality regarding space. But if space is going to be an economic boom, then perhaps it would be prudent to take a look at what economists and entrepreneurs think about the future of the space business. These are the people that will make it happen after all.
Over the past several days an enlightening series about space has been posted on CNNMoney.com, written for Business 2.0 magazine. The intro page can be found here, which contains several links to relevant sub topics.
I've selected a few quotes from the articles:
"Profits set to soar in outer space
Prepare for liftoff: The space business may be the most incredible new opportunity of your lifetime."
Worldwide government spending on space is soaring to $50 billion a year, a 25 percent jump over 2000. NASA represents only $16 billion of that total, but during the next 20 years, the U.S. space agency is likely to sign contracts totaling as much as $400 billion [...]
In 1998, private-sector spending on space applications began to exceed government spending, and the gap is widening. [...]
All have the potential to generate astronomical returns during the next decade.
Building infrastructure is the first step, and here historical analogies abound. The federal government is poised to begin contracting with the private sector to deliver cargo into orbit, a trend that could nurture a market for civilian spaceflight in much the same way that airmail contracts from the Post Office spurred the development of civil aviation a century ago. Prize money -- the incentive that launched Charles Lindbergh -- is now being offered for everything from building a machine to extract oxygen from lunar soil ($250,000) to building an aircraft capable of delivering tourists to orbit by 2010 ($50 million).
The final frontier has been mapped out, and it's almost time to open the business district. In the next 15 years, we could see zero-G R&D labs for Big Pharma and tech companies, solar-power satellites saving Earth from fossil-fuel addiction, and sports arenas hosting events that make the X Games look tame.Of course these are just stupid economists who have false beliefs in infinite growth paradigms and have no understanding of the affects of depleting resources on world economies. Of course most of the people investing big dollars in these ventures are among the most successful business people in the world, but hey, what do they know…
It seems fanciful, but the profits will be very real--as much as $115 billion in the next 15 years. And if you want to cash in earlier, one tycoon is offering $50 million to anyone who can deliver tourists to his soon-to-launch orbital hotel.
For entrepreneurial ideas, the sky is no longer the limit.
-- by Omnitir