Between the close of the Cold War and the more recent retirement of the U.S. shuttle fleet, we’ve long since left the first space age behind. But now it seems there’s a new space race brewing—one that may take humans out of our planet’s orbit. At the height of the Cold War, the first space age was a geopolitical race between superpowers eager to outreach each other. Today’s space race is a more complex interplay of networked nations and private players alternatively competing against, and collaborating with, each other. Once the exclusive provenance of old power nations, space exploration has increasingly opened to new global players with India, China, Nigeria, Japan, the EU, and the UAE getting in the race. Private enterprises are also playing an increasingly prominent role in our interplanetary yearnings, as evidenced by the ventures backed by Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson. NASA is still very much in the game but without a moonshot-like commitment for Mars, their projected 2040 manned mission seems far off. A start-up company, or an upstart country, may beat us there—or perhaps help us all get there together as partners. Join us for an event on Wednesday, March 8, in Washington, D.C., to consider whether it will be competition or cooperation that finally gets us to Mars and beyond.
Learn more at NewAmerica.org