Elon Musk's Space Race: a debate should also be opened for the military industry

(To Philip Del Monte)

On Saturday evening, the "SpaceX" company "Crew Dragon" shuttle founded by tycoon Elon Musk was launched by NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and joined the International Space Station (ISS) in the afternoon of the following day. Millions of spectators were thrilled in front of the television screens at the time of the fateful countdown and surely the emotion will have pushed the real knot of the question into the background: for the first time in history two astronauts launched themselves into orbit on board a vehicle designed, built and operated by a private company.

Elon Musk's message to the world is clear: space exploration is no longer a matter for the exclusive competence of states but is within the reach of private capital. Soon the "SpaceX" feat could be imitated by Jeff Bezos' "Blue Origin" and other pioneers of interstellar capitalism. This sector is highly competitive and which could send the traditional international collaboration on the space theme to the attic.

The opening of new "science fiction" markets in the low Earth orbit (between 500 and 1000 kilometers from the Earth's soil) is the stated goal and within reach of these giants of the technological industry. There New Space Economy global invoice 300 billion per year and it is estimated that this figure will increase between 5 and 10 times within the next thirty years. Clearly, the revitalization and new development strategies of an economic sector that seemed to be in crisis after Washington's "step back" in space exploration also passes through innovation and the reduction of costs connected with the new "space race" theorized by Elon Musk.

The new frontier in the commercialization of space is linked to the reduction of costs (which however remain exorbitant and not accessible to all) through the use of reusable rockets for orbital launches. To quote Elon Musk, it is not said that what is science fiction today must remain so, the launch of the "Crew Dragon" for commercial purposes sends precisely this disruptive message to public opinion, not only to professionals but also to the ordinary citizen.

With the establishment of the Space Force, the United States has put a mortgage on the defense of its strategic-military space interests, but also the markets seek their space among the stars and this is a factor of absolute importance to keep in mind for understanding. and planning new public and private space policies.

With a few but significant words Elon Musk summed up the thoughts of those who see the future in the new "race to space": "There have been only about half a dozen truly important events in the four billion year history of life on Earth: single cell life, multicell life, differentiation in plants and animals, movement of animals from water to land, and advent of mammals and consciousness. The next big moment will be when life becomes multi-planetary, an unprecedented adventure that will greatly increase the wealth and diversity of our collective consciousness ". Words to meditate on and which have a profound political and strategic significance for the future.

The historical undertaking accomplished by "SpaceX" must necessarily open a debate in the defense sector and in the military industry also in the sleepy Europe which, from this point of view, has lagged considerably behind.

Images: SpaceX