Your article (Cover feature, 21 May) made interesting reading, but I think the author missed the chance to fully explore the implications of the process under way.
The key phrase in the article was the involvement of private companies to ‘democratise space’. The reality of this, of course, is the ‘privatisation’ of space — moving the exploration of space from a process controlled and directed by government agencies to one in which the agenda is set by corporate priorities.
The question is whether this is in the interests of the type of space exploration we have seen to date, which has been underpinned by the ideal that finding out more about our solar system is good for its own sake and for the wider interests of humanity.
NASA seems to argue that a closer relationship with the private sector is beneficial to this because it brings access to new technologies and provides additional funding. But if the commercial ethic becomes too deeply entrenched it seems to me there is a danger that technical work and finance will inevitably begin to move in the direction of what is good for business.
It would then remain to be seen whether the two sets of interests overlapped.
Your article made interesting reading, but I think the author missed the chance to fully explore the implications of the process under way.