Free Market Economics: How Does The Free Market Help Space Exploration?

Gus Hurwitz,

Release Date
May 14, 2016


Free Markets and Capitalism

How does the free market help space exploration? Doesn’t the government fund NASA? Thanks to the free market, that isn’t the whole picture. Assistant Professor Gus Hurwitz explains how you can explore space without government funding.

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>> We put a man on the moon. It’s the greatest achievement in all of human history, accomplished by a branch of the US government, NASA. It’s one of the few times that government did such a huge thing so well. How? First, America was inspired, and united behind a single goal, the space race.
Beating the Soviet Union to the moon, then, government knew that all it had to do was throw piles of money at the problem. And that’s exactly what it did, no matter what the cost. But once man stepped on the moon, once we got there, well we’d won the race.
So NASA, like so many government agencies, lost focus and urgency. And after a moonwalk and a moon rover, and some moon golf? That’s where the private sector comes in. Unleash the visionaries, the dreamers, the inventors, the creators. Make things happen. Like Richard Branson. He watched the moon landings as a kid and thought, someday I’ll go into space.
So Branson founded Virgin Galactic Space Travel. And here’s how he got the money. He sold tickets in advance for a quarter million bucks a piece. Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Tom Hanks, even Justin Bieber plunked that change down. And Branson’s vision doesn’t stop there. With the profits he’ll make from space tourism, he’s got plans for an orbital hotel.
And then a hotel on the moon. Elon Musk of PayPal and Tesla, he founded SpaceX, and they built their own rocket and got supplies to the space station. That’s right, a private sector replacement for the space shuttle, only ten times more cost-effective. It wasn’t easy. Rockets can explode, and they do.
Musk almost went bankrupt. Lucky for us taxpayers, when his rockets explode it’s not on our nickel. And that’s the beauty of the free market. It encourages smart risk taking that produces incredible, unexpected new technologies and discoveries. It’s the most effective tool we have to launch the space economy.