I’ve always been a sci-fi person…spaceships, robots, planets, black holes…all that stuff has fascinated me since I was kid. While some kids were chasing dragons and wizards, I was shooting lasers and building space stations. I remember watching space shuttle launches on TV when I was little, a few times in elementary school. I even remember when the Challenger exploded, I was watching at home sitting in my TV chair. I don’t think I understood the gravity of that situation but I remember the event. Since then the space program has had some ups but a lot more downs. Space travel lost some of its luster and mystique…it wasn’t exciting anymore. I still paid attention to NASA and what was going on but shuttle launches ended up being like NASCAR races…you were just waiting for a spectacular crash, but that’s not something you want in space exploration.
But this week space travel got a HUGE shot in the arm when SpaceX completed their to-and-from mission into space. Shooting something into space and having it come back is nothing new, really, but this is difference because SpaceX is a private company that made their own rockets, own capsules and ran the whole thing themselves. We expect governments to be able to get into space, but a “small” private company? That’s cool…that’s exciting. Space travel is interesting again.
Yes, the future is finally here…privatized space travel. It makes me smile not just because there’s some excitement back in space exploration but because one of the common themes in science fiction is the privatization of the future. A lot of great, fun sci-fi movies predicted a future of privatized government. The Running Man, Robocop, Death Race…they all show a future where companies run jails, police and other institutions that were previously managed by the government. Not only does SpaceX open the door on new era of space travel but I think it could pave the way for more privatized government. I can’t say that I think privatized government is a good thing, but I can’t help but laugh if it starts to happen if only because science fiction has been saying we would end up that way for more than 30 years. Life imitating art.
Welcome to the future.