The efforts of the emerging NewSpace field to reshape the space industry have attracted the attention of a leading trade publication, Aviation Week & Space Technology, which named “The Space Entrepreneur” as its 2009 PErson of the Year in this week’s issue. “Collectively, they are in the vanguard of a new industry, poised to transform how humans venture into space in ways that most observers can scarcely imagine today,” the Aviation Week article states. “Space entrepreneurs had a big influence on aerospace in 2009, although it does not begin to compare with the impact they are likely to have in years to come.”
The article devotes a fair amount to Masten Space Systems, who won $1.15 million from NASA’s Centennial Challenges program in 2009 in the Lunar Lander Challenge. (Dave Masten is featured on the cover of the issue as well.) Also mentioned in the article is XCOR Aerospace, whose CEO, Jeff Greason, served on the Augustine committee that made the case for commercial crew transportation to low Earth orbit.
A contrarian view, though, is expressed by John Marshall, an aerospace consultant who serves on NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel. He tell’s Aviation Week that he’s skeptical that there’s a big market for commercial human spaceflight, particularly to orbit. “There is a very small, unique industry that is potentially there,” he said of suborbital spaceflight, and acknowledged that there is a government market for cargo and crew transportation to orbit. “After that, I don’t see any market. I don’t see Hilton Hotels putting a vehicle in there to be able to accommodate space tourism anytime soon.” Commercial space companies, he added, “are a long way away from endorsing the same kind of safety culture that a mature airline has.”