I’ll admit it. I, like other geeks in the mil/aero market, have a fascination with space. It’s a passionate subject, and one about which many people have a strong opinion. Tempers are flaring around the privatization of space exploration. The Obama Administration has called for NASA to focus funds elsewhere, and partner with private industry (commercial companies) when it comes to space exploration. Many argue that NASA was founded for this singular task– launching humans into space—and are understandably dismayed and disappointed. Being a glass-half-full geek, I tend to see it another way.
The military and aerospace (mil/aero) market—and that means today’s soldiers, pilots, and astronauts—are now using, benefitting from, and oftentimes relying upon technologies that were designed, developed, manufactured, and otherwise paid for by the commercial market. Many companies have partnered with the Department of the Defense and gained funding from Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or similar grants; but, more often than not, commercial businesses reinvest a large portion of their revenue in furthering research and development (R&D) efforts—the heart of innovation.
In challenging economic times such as these, when the Federal Government is looking for areas to cut funding, it makes sense to accept investments and advancements in the U.S. where we can get them—from the private, commercial sector. In the case of space exploration, it’s a no brainer—stagnate because NASA lacks the funds to put more people in space, or let capitalism work for the common good, and the good of the mil/aero community?
And so, I’ve talked about, and shown appreciation for, space exploration innovators—including Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk—who made millions in the commercial market and subsequently invested in the mil/aero market courtesy of privatized space exploration. These celebrity millionaires, being called “thrillionaires”, are investing and innovating around the privatized space industry—and their efforts are very likely to be to the benefit of the U.S., not only in terms of national pride, but also when it comes to the economy. Their names grace a prestigious list, one which this geek is happy to see grow and prosper as they advance space exploration technologies, spacecraft, and opportunities. “To infinity and beyond…,” to quote Buzz Lightyear of Disney-Pixar fame.