Clark Lindsey over at Hobby Space points to an interesting interview with space lawyer Jim Dunstan. The expert in space policy and law has some choice things to say about current efforts to get astronauts beyond LEO and the role of private industry, author Robert Bauman writes:
In his opinion, NASA is in shambles and in its current form it cannot get the U.S. back to the moon. He argues that it is not relevant as currently organized. The lesson, in Dunstan’s strong words – it is important to remember that first there was space, then NASA, not the other way around. Nothing about space makes private business nonviable.
Today, Dunstan says, the space revolution is already underway. Space tourism operations, space mining operations and an assortment of other business ventures will require massive infrastructure for support. This means jobs and the explosion of a whole new sector of the economy. Again, the frontier metaphor is useful. First, a frontier fort appears to tame the wilderness and provide stability. But within a few years, the fort is surrounded by a sprawling town powered by commerce. The value of a foray into the frontier is not that first fort, but the town and the infrastructure that grow around it.
Companies such as Armadillo Aerospace, Bigalow Aerospace, and XCOR Aerospace are opening up that new frontier. According to Dunstan, these are only the vanguard of a space industry that will soon be larger, more productive and more promising than we can currently envision. As this Space Revolution takes hold, it will be people like Jim Dunstan who will shape our common understanding of the Final Frontier — and develop the rules by which we will explore it.
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