Jul 22, 2021
The Billionaire Space Race
Play • 27 min

In the past two weeks, both Sir Richard Branson and Amazon's Jeff Bezos flew into space on their own rockets. Space tourism, they say, is just around the corner: anyone who can pay the price of admission can now travel outside our home planet. In the flurry of headlines that followed, it’s easy to forget these billionaire-astronauts – along with Elon Musk – have been investing heavily in the commercial space industry for nearly two decades. There’s an obvious, immediate business case: Satellites help fuel the information economy. But the longer-term ambitions of a commercial space sector are deeply imaginative, if not fanciful. Human colonies on the moon, earth-orbiting-hotels, mining asteroids for precious metals.  

On today’s Brainstorm, Michal Lev-Ram and Brian O’Keefe discuss the rise of the commercial space sector and the technological breakthroughs it hopes to realize.  

Christian Maender, director of in-space manufacturing and research at unicorn Axiom Space, describes the company’s plans to build the first private space station. 

Peter Hughes, the Center Chief Technologist for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center applauds the space-minded venture capitalists. Up in orbit, he says, the more the merrier.  

Also in the episode, Mehak Sarang, research associate at Harvard Business School, discusses the limitless possibilities for scientific and technological breakthroughs that space affords.   

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