A contrarian view of NewSpace

Given all the hype and hoopla surrounding many new commercial space ventures these days, it’s easy to overlook the fact that there are people out there not convinced that these companies, or the industry in general, are that real. A case in point: on the web site for Earth & Sky, a science radio show, space historian David S. F. Portree takes a highly critical look at NewSpace (or “Newspace”, without the intercapped “S”, as he writes it.) Portree is very skeptical that commercial human spaceflight will take off (so to speak), “mainly because piloted spaceflight is expensive and difficult” He brings up some legitimate concerns, such as what will happen to the industry in the wake of a fatal accident, as well as the dangers of extending analogies to early aviation too far. He also argues that NewSpace wants NASA to “get out of the way” while also asking it for public funding, which is something of a corruption of what most NewSpace companies are saying and asking for. He also argues that NewSpace is similar to the “1970s space colony craze” (remember “L5 by ’95″—as in “1995”?)

I left a comment critiquing his analysis (and, just checking now, it looks like I owe David a response to his reply). If you have something to add, you’re probably best served by commenting there, not here.

5 comments to A contrarian view of NewSpace

  • Chance

    I left a (hopefully constructive) comment. I am glad he is bringing forth this view. We need more contrarians out there to keep the dreamers somewhat grounded.

  • Personal Spaceflight » A contrarian view of NewSpace…

    Some discussion of space historian David S. F. Portree’s recent opinion piece, which took a critical look at the emerging space tourism industry….

  • Garry

    Yeah, the Wright Brothers and/or Gustav Whitehead were never supposed to be able to fly using wings nor was it supposed to be possible for mere mortals to fly to the Moon, land, and come back either.

  • Garry

    One additional thing I notice on the Earth and Sky blog is that Mr. Portree says aviation worked because it accomplished things such as moving people faster. Well, commercial interest in spaceflight technologies could very well lead to hypersonic intercity airline service that has been envisioned since the 70s. Very attractive to business travellers.. Also, interorbital flying could lead to industrial speculation in the massive amounts of space materials in the Asteroid Belt…trillions of dollars worth. If that isn’t impetus for this fledgling industry, I don’t know what is…

  • Randy Campbell

    “L5 by ’95” eh?

    My ‘personal’ favorite was/is “Lunar Mine by ’99!”


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