The launch of Sputnik in October 1957 initiated the Space Age, in which the realms beyond Earth’s atmosphere were opened for exploration. Some 60 years later a new space age was launched, in which those same extraterrestrial realms were opened for business.
This new space age, sometimes referred to as “Alt.Space” or “NewSpace,” is driven by private companies that are furthering the work that NASA and other government agencies began decades ago. They are developing new infrastructure and innovations that are being funded by — and for — a new space economy.
“We have found that a commercial infrastructure is a more efficient method of driving space-related industrial innovation and, more importantly, maintaining its momentum than the state systems of the old space race,” explains Tim Chrisman, Founder and CEO of Foundation for the Future (F4F). “It is already fueling progress toward lunar mining, new space stations, better launch methodologies, and more sophisticated space vehicle manufacturing.”
F4F is an education and advocacy non-profit that has come forward as a leading voice in the new space age. It is dedicated to advancing the space economy by fostering critical infrastructure to enable it, investment tools to finance it, and a workforce to power it. Its monthly Conversations For The Future events bring together influential and visionary speakers from all over the world to share a unique variety of space-related content and topics designed to educate, inspire, and plan for the future of space. In 2021, the events featured 171 high-profile speakers, 2,337 in-meeting attendees, and over 70,000 social media views.
Recent Conversations For The Future events have focused on topics including workforce development, space cybersecurity, and how space exploration promises to improve conditions on Earth. One of the initiatives that F4F is supporting is the creation of a public-private sector federally-chartered corporation for space infrastructure and enhancement of space-related projects. A bill known as the Space Public-Private Advanced Commercialization Enterprise (SPACE) Corporation Act, which sought early support in the halls of Congress in 2021, proposed such an entity.
“The SPACE Corporation would provide an avenue for commercial space investment, financing, and project development that does not currently exist,” Tim says. “With interest in space on the rise, we need the backbone to support that excitement and deliver on those increasing expectations. Right now, there is no bridge between the missions of NASA and the Space Force, and what private companies in the US are doing.”
The SPACE Corporation Act that F4F supports lays out a program for creating more than 2.6 million new jobs, generating nearly $160 billion in new economic activity, and increasing state and local tax revenue by more than $10 billion, all in its first decade.
The big players in the new space economy include SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic. Each has been successful in accomplishing space-related missions that previously only government agencies had attempted. Their ongoing accomplishments have led some to wonder if government programs are still necessary.
“It’s difficult for governments to keep justifying pouring taxpayer money into space exploration in a time when their citizens expect them to solve so many other problems on the ground,” says Tim. “There needs to be a better, more cost-effective way of realizing the benefits of space.”
Looking to the future, Tim believes F4F can best serve the development of the space economy by creating a pipeline of financial and workforce development policies that will propel the US space ecosystem forward.
“What is missing at this point is a long-term perspective,” explains Tim. “Too many people are taking a short-term view. With too many ambitious projects driven by short-term money, you get a lot of volatility. We’d like to see more long-term capital vehicles that can build reliable systems in support of a sustainable ecosystem that can stand the test of time.”
Those who want to join F4F on its mission of making space accessible to everyone can find more information on becoming a member at www.f4fspace.org.
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