With the advent of developing space businesses and recent conversations about Earth’s habitability, this year’s ‘Ten Years From Now’ series reveals deep insights not just for the business world, but for the whole of our current generation. “Life Beyond Earth” is the theme of the 2022 conferences, offered by the Mendoza College of Business. Christian Davenport, editor of the Washington Post, kicked off the first of seven planned talks by sharing ideas about commercialization of space.
Author of “The Space Barons: Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos” (2018), Davenport recounted how the quest for the cosmos is intertwined with the fate of the world’s wealthiest individuals.
“The fastest way to go to space is to become a billionaire,” Davenport said. “And the wealthiest among us invest a large part of our wealth in space.”
He further explained his reference to “space barons” in the title of his book, “We have companies competing in a way that governments used to do,” Davenport said.
Ten years from which Professor James O’Rourke, instructor of the course, notes that “enlightened self-interest” is the driving force behind this new space race.
The vision of “space barons” is similar, but unique in nature. Both Elon Musk and Jeffery Bezos plan to bridge the biggest gap between Earth and space: cost. While Elon Musk is preoccupied with a “safeguard for humanity”, with Mars being the best candidate for such an option, Bezos’ philosophy is to preserve Earth and move industry to space.
“When he founded Amazon, the resources he needed for the company to succeed were there: the credit card, the post office and the Internet, for example – of course, for space, there is no infrastructure yet said Davenport. “Perhaps we are entering an era of economic dynamism that is creating a whole new market, similar to what the Internet did to the world when it was first created.”
Leading viewers through the story, Davenport explained how the aura of hope for space travel burns even brighter. He recalled the desolation of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion and traced the quest to build a reusable, cost-effective rocket from events like Space X’s historic Falcon 9 landing. in 2015 to the launch of the Starship into orbit scheduled for this year.
With a multiplicity of companies such as Boeing, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, as well as proliferating ranks of astronauts, an unprecedented era of space exploration seems at hand. NASA’s plans to build a new International Space Station and the recent launch of the James Webb Space Telescope are other accomplishments that cannot be overlooked, as they will continue to shed light on the great unknown of the universe.
Davenport even touched on a possible return to the Moon, remarking that “the reason we haven’t gone beyond Earth orbit for a while now is because of different and conflicting government administrations.” NASA’s Project Artemis, aptly named after Apollo’s mythological twin sister, is striving to brave that feat again. Knowing there’s water on the moon, Davenport noted there’s even potential for it to become a “gas station to space.”
Besides the lecture, Davenport noted the importance of discussing these topics in general, emphasizing his goal “to explain the issues of our time to people, including how government administers tax-funded programs, and to place this in a larger historical context; to inform citizens about this interesting time that we hope to bring to space, and how it could play a bigger role in people’s lives,” he said. “We need to understand the benefits as well as the ethical challenges associated with this.”
Professor O’Rourke added that the series itself is designed to encourage students to think about major relevant issues of the near future. In ten years, “everyone in the room will have to adapt and/or adopt an intervention strategy in the face of the challenges and opportunities that will arise. These are topics you won’t encounter in an accounting or marketing course, and you get to meet some interesting, important, and smart people along the way. »
“Interesting people” will indeed appear throughout this series, including a NASA astronaut and a US Air Force test pilot, a mission manager for Blue Origin, a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist , and beyond. A full syllabus for this stellar course can be found on the Mendoza College of Business website.