Why Access To Space Needs To and Is Getting Cheaper

If you look into the night you can see the Moon our nearest neighbor. Humans have been there a few times but we aim to “shoot to the moon” more permanently and sustainably. We can see Mars, a planet which sits in the cross hairs of our exploration with its raw resources and atmosphere which could be used to build a civilization. We see other places in our Solar System and beyond that every science fiction movie advertises as our future homes, as places where humanity can unabashedly grow without the looming threat of global catastrophe and scarcity of resources. The future of humanity is in the stars, but how do we move toward it? Governments seem ambivalent, and today it seems with the retirement of the shuttle and lack of a sustained space vision that we are less capable of spaceflight than we were in the days of our parents. Are we going anywhere anytime soon? Any object that has traveled into space is worth its weight in gold. For the past 30 years the price to go to Earth orbit has been $10,000 a pound ($20,000 a kg). Any mission to Mars or the Moon must first travel through the gateway of Earth orbit meaning that economically, our ambitions to travel beyond stand as unsustainable pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. The staggering cost of spaceflight has been the single biggest deterrent to extending our reach beyond Earth orbit. Only light-weight robotic missions are even fiscally capable of being implemented. During the early 1990’s the Space Exploration Initiative quoted $500 billion as the cost...