The Privatization of Space Exploration: Business, Technology, Law, and Policy

By Terrell, Timothy D. | Libertarian Papers, March 2012 | Go to article overview

The Privatization of Space Exploration: Business, Technology, Law, and Policy


Terrell, Timothy D., Libertarian Papers


Lewis D. Solomon: The Privatization of Space Exploration: Business,

Technology, Law, and Policy. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers,

2008, ISBN: 978-1-4128-0759-3, 128 pages.

LEWIS D. SOLOMON'S BOOK The Privatization of Space Exploration, now available in a 2012 softcover printing, is an effort to survey the rapidly changing industry of private space flight and suggest ways to encourage it. It should be noted that the title is really a misnomer, as many of the functions handled by the private firms covered in this book are not exploration per se, but rather involve satellite launch equipment and services. The author envisions resource extraction and extensive manufacturing processes to be carried out in space in the future.

The author's intention to promote private enterprise in space, as opposed to the dominant government-run space programs, is appreciated. There are some inspiring stories of a few of the path-breaking entrepreneurial endeavors in the space industry, and the author is critical of NASA, the International Space Station, and some other expensive, government-run space efforts. However, the book falls short in a few places.

First, when listing his justifications for space exploration, he makes a problematic economic argument. "[N]ew spacecraft enterprises, new spaceports, and related businesses offer jobs for skilled workers," Solomon writes. Furthermore, "Space activity also generates economic growth and tax receipts" (p. 8). These supporting arguments ignore the important fact that jobs are not the goal of the economy. We want the output from jobs, not the jobs themselves. This distinction is important, because any policy that subsidizes an industry in the effort to make sure that the industry hires workers is inevitably promoting a misallocation of those workers' skills. Superseding market prices for labor means that the other industries that had a more productive use for those workers (maybe in space flight, maybe not) must forego those workers. This reduces economic growth. The tax revenue argument has more serious problems. Taxes simply extract value from individuals and transfer that value to a government-determined purpose. Solomon has not shown how the government's ability to tax space activity indicates anything about the relative usefulness of space activity as opposed to other kinds of human productivity. This comment is not central to the book, but may help explain Solomon's acceptance of certain limited government interventions on behalf of the industry.

Second, the author evidently has some lingering ideas about the role of government in establishing national goals that place this book outside a fairly broad concept of libertarianism. Solomon evidently would go beyond even the classical liberal conception of government as a referee of market disputes, or a source of collective defense against aggression. Government becomes the director of national goals: "Although the public outcry in the spring of 1961 was not as strident as it had been after the launch of Sputnik," Solomon argues, "something had to be done to recommit the nation to success in the space race" (p. 16). Why? Kennedy, and the author, apparently, saw the achievement of milestones in space exploration as a demonstration of the superiority of American society over that of the Soviets.

This is not to say that the book does not have great merit. Much of the book consists of a useful history of government and private space exploration and technological development. Solomon seems to favor prize-motivated innovation, and mentions some of the history of privately funded prizes. NASA's objections to privatizing space travel are evident in several places, including its opposition to the first civilian "space tourist," Dennis Tito, in 2001. Solomon is rightly critical of this, and of NASA's general approach to space exploration. The personal histories of some of the entrepreneurs involved in the private space launch industry are also interesting.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Privatization of Space Exploration: Business, Technology, Law, and Policy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.