I first read Paula Berinstein’s wonderful book, “Making Space Happen: Private Space Ventures and the Visionaries Behind Them“, in 2002.
Science Fiction writer Ben Bova said of the book: “Imagine meeting a century and a half ago with John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, George Eastman, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison…[This] book is…a visit with the entrepreneurs who will be the movers and shakers of the space frontier.”
Underdogs in Space
In “Making Space Happen”, Paula charted the struggles, aspirations and achievements of the colourful entrepreneurs and private company start-ups in what she called “the private space movement”. They were trying to turn space travel from a starry-eyed dream available only to a handful of government workers, into an everyday reality for the whole world.
At the time not much attention was paid to the private companies trying to slip the surly bonds of earth, so her highly accessible book was a breath of fresh air.
Each chapter touches on a different aspect of the space movement, covering related issues like funding, environment, safety, potential market size, technical issues, and so on. There is some overlap between chapters, and some of the people she has interviewed appear in multiple places.
Paula approached everything from a business perspective, so her opinion on the likely success or failure of these attempts was very frank, and she included lots of interesting statistics on what was required to “make space happen” from an investment and tourism perspective.
A running thread in her interviews was that while the individuals and companies were strongly focused on achieving their goals, they faced long odds.
It’s a real underdog story.
Flash forward 11 years: Is Space REALLY happening?
So, is space really happening?
To explore how the plans and ideas Paula described came true (or not!), I will cover the major topics in her book, on
- Space Tourism
- The Ansari X PRIZE
- Journey to Mars
- Return to the Moon
- Mining in space
- Space Entrepreneurship and private rocket companies
- Marketing, Funding, Law and Insurance issues