Space Is an Untapped Resource 3 technologies there, but also to mine oxygen from Lunar rocks that will refuel our ships [and] to use nuclear power to extract water from the per- manently shadowed craters of the South Pole.”10 What may sound like science fiction is quickly becoming a reality as technology continues to evolve. Vice President Kamala Harris is equally impressed with the poten- tial of space, commenting that “space activity is education. Space activity is also economic growth. It is also innovation and inspiration. And it is about our security and our strength.”11 Some space experts believe that these predictions are conservative in nature and underestimate the space economy’s potential. SpaceFund cofounder and managing partner Meagan Murphy Crawford has argued that the space economy will soon become a multi-trillion-dollar sec- tor and that the economic potential of space is limitless.12 A key factor contributing to Crawford’s prediction is the commercial space sector’s efforts to expand access to space. For example, a number of private space companies recently have announced initiatives to develop commercial space stations. The Houston-based private space company Axiom was selected by NASA in January 2020 to develop the commercial succes- sor to the International Space Station (ISS). In October 2021, Blue Origin and Sierra Space announced a partnership with Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions, Boeing, and Arizona State University to develop the Orbital Reef commercial space station. Additionally, Nanoracks also announced in October 2021 a partnership with Lockheed Martin and Voyager Space to develop the Starlab commercial space station. The development of these commercial space stations has the potential to allow for expanded space tourism and revolutionary research and development. George Pullen, chief economist of Milky Way Economy, instructor in space economics at Columbia University, and a senior economist of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, has developed projections that are similar to the estimates of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) of $10 trillion by 2050 (see figure 1.1). The data suggest that by 2040 the space economy could be 4 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), ris- ing to 9 percent of global GDP by 2070. The founder and CEO of Trans Astronautica (TransAstra) Corporation, Joel Sercel, has likewise argued that current space economy projections are massively understated and that in the coming decades the space economy will account for a large portion of the overall terrestrial economy.13 Sercel argues that as the space industry develops reusable space vehicles, space launch and travel costs as well as orbital logistics costs will be comparable to or even less than aviation costs. Such a development would allow for Lunar and asteroid mining and for the in-space manufacturing of terres- trial products and space-based assets. As a result, space would become an even more integral part of the global economy.14
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