The privatisation of space

Written by Mark Evans

The World Economic Forum has been musing on the next steps in space exploration. With the recent Falcon X launch and NASA announcing that private companies would soon have the possibility of docking modules at the International Space Station, a shift towards privately-funded exploration is evident.

New companies (Space X, Blue Origin, and Virgin) and established private suppliers to space programmes (Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital Sciences, Sierra Nevada Corp and many others) are all eyeing the future. Indeed Axiom Space wants to create the world’s first private commercial space station by 2020.

Using up-to-date technology and lean processes the private companies are looking at space as an area where they can dramatically undercut state-sponsored programme costs. Not that states are likely to stop either – with China, Russia and the US all having invested heavily in the prestige of space. Meanwhile the private sector gets to grips with making money from space travel.