Let Space Flight Be An Accelerator For Technology (Again)

Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Eric Stallmer reflected on President Obama’s Speech at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center five years ago today.

“President Obama spoke of accelerating innovation in the private sector, and five years later, we see the results of that commitment to the commercial spaceflight industry. Our industry is more robust and competitive than ever before, and President Obama and Congress’s investment in private sector pioneers has paid off in the form of thousands of new, high tech jobs around the country and continued assurance of our nation’s status as the leader in space exploration.”

I am reminded of a comment I some made years ago: spaceflight (like the military) is an accelerator for technology.  Challenging environments and circumstances force innovation to proceed rapidly.  As it turns out, over the last 30 years spaceflight has not in fact been much of an accelerator for technology.  “OldSpace” is all about flying what’s tried and true, even if it’s 30 years old.  Hence we’re seeing a return to ’60’s style manned space capsules and the “my rocket’s bigger than your rocket” thinking of the Senate Launch System and billion dollar budgets.  “NewSpace” is all about faster, cheaper, smarter.  As we saw yesterday, SpaceX is leading the edge of the new paradigm.  It’s time for spaceflight to once again become an accelerator for technology.

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