Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Universe, or Nothing

We are seeing more bold, visionary space start-ups these days, including my own. Rhetoric or realistic? Will today's space entrepreneurs succeed? Time will tell... technology will eventually meet the dreams, but it's the mustering of capital and the execution of viable business plans and companies that is the day to day challenge we all face.

In the big picture, meaning on the canvass of the fate of humanity and Life on Earth, utilizing space resources is essential to our evolution into a multi-world species.  The materials available to us on Earth will be gone in an instant of cosmic time, and in a thousand years we will look back on this era as the transition of humanity into an expanding space-faring civilization. If we don't do it, I fear our evolutionary opportunity on this world will have ended, either by our own irresponsibility or by nature's dispassionate wrath, and we won't be looking back at all.

As evidenced throughout our history, the bold few lead the complacent many. Our future on Earth and in Space will be the same - dependent on the vision and entrepreneurial drive of a few, largely mystifying the masses. Most people throughout history who have been cynical about the ingenuity and potential of the human race and what's possible technologically have ultimately been proven wrong.

I think it comes down to two fundamental thoughts: either you believe in humanity's future as a space-faring, multi-world species, or not. Once that is established, it's a question of when and how, not if.  If you don't believe in human expansion into the cosmos, then you've put an expiry date on the human species, tied to the lifespan of our home world, Earth, and its mother star, both of which will cease to exist over the course cosmic time.

So as H.G.Wells said, "It's the Universe, or Nothing".

Is it a coincidence that these bold space resources start-ups are largely the same leadership that gave rise to the spike of space advocacy groups in the 1980's?  Not at all... we are all Orphans of Apollo, reaching for the dreams we bought into as kids, inspired by Clarke, Heinlein, Roddenberry, O'Neill, Sagan.... the Space Generation coming of age.

I wish them all well.... as they do me. We have the same vision with different strategies and tactics. To borrow a phrase, it's not either-or, it's all of the above.

We shall see.... it needs serious, consummate execution and deep pockets backing the vision, and far more than powerpoint designs and pretty pictures to realize this fantastic future of abundance for the human race. Personally, I have never worked so hard to find the capital and talent to get Moon Express to where it is today... and we've only just begun.

I was recently asked by a journalist if all this space resource stuff is pie in the sky. Absolutely it is. And there's lots of pie, enough for all imaginable futures of abundant resources for humanity... and it's reachable.  I've believed in the promise of asteroid resources since reading John Lewis' 'Mining the Sky' in the 80's. But I have only recently come to the view that the best place to mine asteroids is actually on the Moon... where riches have been aggregating through eons of bombardment, conveniently shattered and pulverized without threat to life or ecosystems.  That's where I'm placing my bet, along with my cofounders and our investors...

We shall see... competition rocks, and I can't imagine better competitors.

And it's a big universe.

~ Bob