There is something plain thrilling about seeing a photograph of another planet. It makes imagining stepping onto that surface all the easier. There are so many important things we could be spending this money on instead of space exploration, but it is really hard to remember that when you see pictures like this one recently beamed back from Titan.
Right now, the recent success of Space Ship 1 makes the commercialization of at least orbital space seem almost inevitable. Mind you: that means manned commercialization of orbital space — commercialization of orbital space via machine is a fait accompli.
One wonders what this means. How long will it be before Pepsi puts billboards on the moon? Will the first permanent station off the home planet be a Comfort Inn? Does space exploration require that we allow a massive land-grab on the moon, Mars, and Titan? Capitalism only works when there is authoritative support of property. How long before the “ownership society” catches on to this? Is it time for some creative adverse possession?