Space Exploration – Aff/Neg – TDI 21 Aff – Space Exploration AC – Inherency Currently, entrepreneurs are pushing for privatization of space travel with increasing success Thompson 20 [(Clive, author of Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World, a columnist for Wired magazine, and a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine) “Monetizing the Final Frontier The strange new push for space privatization,” December 3, 2020] TDI For longtime enthusiasts of NASA’s human spacefaring, it was a singularly auspicious moment. Ever since NASA’s space shuttles were mothballed in 2011, the agency had no American-owned way of getting people into space. It had been paying the Russian government to fly U.S. astronauts up and back, on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. But this flight was different. It was the first time humans had flown in a rocket and a capsule made by a private-sector company: SpaceX, the creation of the billionaire Elon Musk. The launch was also a SpaceX branding bonanza. The astronauts rode up to the rocket in a Tesla, Musk’s fabled luxury electric car; when they’d reached orbit, they broadcast a live video in which they thanked SpaceX for making the flight happen, and showed off the sleek capsule—a genuine marvel of engineering, with huge touch screen control panels that looked rather like the ones inside a Tesla itself. Over the next few years, NASA will pay Musk and SpaceX $2.6 billion to ferry astronauts to and from the space station six times. For the feds, this price tag is remarkably cheaper than the space shuttle, which cost over $1 billion per flight. In his speech after the launch, Trump lauded the cost savings that SpaceX had realized on the government’s behalf. SpaceX, he announced, “embodies the American ethos of big thinking and risk-taking.... Congratulations, Elon.” For Musk, though, the launch was more than just a technical success, and is bigger even than the $2.6 billion contract. It cements him as a leading player in what might seem the unlikeliest stage of the final frontier’s exploration—the privatization of space. Private-sector activity in space travel is accelerating dramatically—rocketing, one might say. For decades, ever since people first headed for orbit in the 1960s, spaceflight had been mostly the preserve of governments. States were the only actors with the money and technical acumen to blast things into the vacuum and get them safely down again. The private sector didn’t have NASA’s know-how, nor—more important—a business plan that could rationalize the massive outlay of capital required to operate in space. In the last few years, that calculus has changed dramatically. A generation of “New Space” entrepreneurs has begun launching rockets and satellites. Some seek to flood the planet with fast, cheap mobile-phone signals; others want to manufacture new products in zero gravity, harnessing the novel physics of such conditions to engineer substances that can’t be made in Earth’s gravity. Further afield, they’re aiming to harvest water on the moon and even mine asteroids. Backing this burst of entrepreneurial fervor are many billionaires who made their money in the early Wild West of the internet, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, with dreams of building space colonies, and Musk, the former PayPal titan who hopes to personally make it to Mars. Barack Obama’s administration made the first major overtures to the space privatizers, signing legislation that paved the way for today’s space boom. But the real land rush has occurred under Trump, via a flurry of executive orders designed to give private firms greater access to “low-Earth orbit.” Trump officials have even touted the idea of privatizing the $100 billion space station itself—the last signature NASA-sponsored human spacecraft project still aloft. When Trump’s transition team in 2017 pondered the handoff of low-Earth orbit to the private sector, it concluded: “This may be the biggest and most public privatization effort America has ever conducted.” Or as Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz—at the time the chairman of the Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee—put it in 2018: “I predict the first trillionaire will be made in space.” The burst of activity and high-tech acumen thrills many space fans. But it is making many others quite nervous. Opening up space to a frenzy of private actors could, they agree, produce measurable benefits back on

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