"How is it that I have billions or hundreds of millions of dollars, and I can't buy a ticket to space?" asks Katherine Mangu-Ward, as she explains why a handful of super-rich men have decided to fund a new era of private space travel. "This is not the deal. This is not what I thought was going to happen when I was 10."
Mangu-Ward, managing editor of Reason magazine, joined Charles Murray, José Cordeiro, and Aaron Day, at FreedomFest 2013 in Las Vegas, to discuss the future of space exploration. The mainstream media's outlook has been uniformly pessimistic on the subject. NASA has scaled back its ambitions and its budget has contracted, while government-backed missions have drifted away. President Bush's ambitious plan for a manned mission to Mars, announced in 2004 to great fanfare, never got off the ground.
So why is the FreedomFest panel so optimistic about space travel? Because while government is underperforming, entrepreneurs from all over the world are picking up the slack.
José Cordeiro talks about the pioneers who are backing a variety of innovative ways to fund space travel privately. MarsOne, based in the Netherlands, is planning a trip to the red planet by documenting the entire process and turning it into a reality show. Billionaire Richard Branson is creating the space tourism industry with Virgin Galactic's innovative approach to spacecraft. Elon Musk's SpaceX is generating revenue by transporting cargo into orbit for NASA.
Charles Murray, co-author of Apollo, says that the first moon landing was accomplished by a government bureaucracy that acted like "the most audacious entrepreneurs you've ever seen." Murray tells the story of a once-great organizational spirit that has steadily declined since the 1960s.
Aaron Day analyzes the psychology of today's space entrepreneurs, from Burt Rutan's pessimistic take on historical progress in space to Elon Musk's record of accomplishing more with fewer resources.
Runs about 36 minutes.
Edited by Todd Krainin. Camera by Paul Detrick and Alex Manning.
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