Will Government Budget Cuts Mean a Final Finish for the Space Race?

By IGI Global on Sep 10, 2013
Contributed by Ann Lupold, Discipline Manager

Competition in the space industry is nothing new. Kick-started with the Space Race in 1957, the global contest of dominating space became a universal focus, concerning not only technological and ideological superiority, but also concepts of nationalism and security.

Will Government Budget In recent years, the US has witnessed various cut-backs concerning space exploration and development, namely the termination of NASA’s shuttle program by President Obama. From a political standpoint, space exploration may not seem integral to national security in comparison to ongoing issues with terrorism. However, an interesting point is brought to light in the recent interview of Dr. Robert Zubrin, President of the Mars Society, featured in the International Journal of Space Technology Management and Innovation (IJSTMI).

“In the 20th Century we had 2 huge catastrophes. We had World War I and World War II, and for a while it seemed we would have a World War III nuclear war, but we didn't. Instead we moved the competition into a much more positive channel and we didn't have a Third World War. We had a Space Race instead. We reached the Moon and we showed something grand about Humanity rather then something hideous.”

Technological innovation in the space industry is one of the prime drivers behind competitiveness. This theory of utilizing space exploration and development as a tool for healthy competition between nations equally strengthens nationalism and patriotism, not to mention paving the way for further industrial and technological developments within society.

NASA’s recent cut-backs might be cause for concern in this circumstance; however, the development of private space-development companies, such as SpaceX, Deep Space Industries, and Planetary Resources will ensure the continuing evolution of space exploration. According to Stella Tkatchova’s Space-Based Technologies and Commercialized Development: Economic Implications and Benefits: “When private stakeholders enter the space market, the situation will gradually change and result in increased competitiveness in the space industry.” Private companies will continue with the competition, facilitating projects such as a Mission to Mars and the Human Asteroid Mission.

Our established knowledge of space and curiosity of the great beyond will continue to propel us into the future. According to owner of SpaceX, Internet tycoon Elon Musk, “The United States is a nation of explorers. America is the spirit of human exploration distilled.” (Interview with Wired, 2012.)

IGI Global author and editor Stella Tkatchova is Space Business Engineer at Rhea System S.A., a Belgium aerospace company. Her 2012 publication Space-Based Technologies and Commercialized Development introduces the concept of space-based technology commercialization and offers a first-time analysis of plausible opportunities. She is also Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Space Technology Management and Innovation, which offers a platform for a discussion on space business, innovation, and management. This journal discusses the advantages of space technology for economic growth (i.e. employment, technology innovation), new markets, and applications; as well as space programs management, technology innovation, and space-based technology commercialization.
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