Comparison of Historic Exploration with Contemporary Space Policy Suggests a Retheorisation of Settings

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J. Cokely et al. (2013), JBIS, 66, pp.233-241

Refcode: 2013.66.233
Keywords: Exploration, Terraforming, policy, corporate, government, public-private partnerships

The 2008 NASA Astrobiology Roadmap provides one way of theorising this developing field, a way which has become the normative model for the discipline: science-and scholarship-driven funding for space. By contrast, a novel re-evaluation of funding policies is undertaken in this article to reframe astrobiology, terraforming and associated space travel and research. Textual visualisation, discourse and numeric analytical methods, and value theory are applied to historical data and contemporary sources to re-investigate significant drivers and constraints on the mechanisms of enabling space exploration. Two data sets are identified and compared: the business objectives and outcomes of major 15th-17th century European joint-stock exploration and trading companies and a case study of a current space industry entrepreneur company. Comparison of these analyses suggests that viable funding policy drivers can exist outside the normative science and scholarship-driven roadmap. The two drivers identified in this study are (1) the intrinsic value of space as a territory to be experienced and enjoyed, not just studied, and (2) the instrumental, commercial value of exploiting these experiences by developing infrastructure and retail revenues. Filtering of these results also offers an investment rationale for companies operating in, or about to enter, the space business marketplace.

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