The “Up Front” commentary by AW&ST Senior Business Editor Joseph Anselmo (April 2,2012) got this senior citizen to thinking: Was the “space business” ever really meant to be a place for “we” to stay in? Growing up in Southern California during the halcyon days of the aerospace industry, my friends and I were raised on the “Promise of Tomorrow” as portrayed in the newly constructed Disneyland, and on the Sputnik-induced fear as spoofed in the movie “The Russian’s are coming”.
In those days, going into space was called the “Space Race”, not going into the “Business of Space”. To win the space race against the Russians, there was a plan. Goals were set, objectives were achieved, and national pride was bolstered by being first on the moon. Mission accomplished. But what about the “business” of space?
Maintaining a manned presence in space never really had a business plan, certainly not in the sense that your local banker would expect if you came in for a loan. Rather, the public was assured of the “promise” of tomorrow’s unimagined benefits such as new technologies, new materials, perhaps even new or improved medicines manufactured in the weightlessness of space. All this to be achieved as our nation “invested” more and more into an hopeful results that lay just over the horizon.
Well, the public has since learned that government investment means spending our tax dollars, and that hope is not a plan you can count on, certainly not in the costly business of space.