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A network of space solar power satellites powering the globe could be the first step towards an extremely lucrative space economy. (credit: © Mafic Studios)

A space joint stock company

<< page 1: the first division: SSP and debris removal

The second division: space colonization

Once the solar power satellites had been secured from debris and potentially hostile space participants, there could be trillions to reinvest back into space. The Space Joint Stock Company could therefore constitute a second division with which to colonize the cosmos. If the first division of the Joint Stock Company consisted of SSP and a debris service, the second division could consist of a variety of activities to explore for and exploit the resources of space. Undoubtedly there is a wealth of natural resources in the planets and asteroids of our solar system for which we have yet to find economic uses. The first goal of the second division of the Company would then be to explore for these natural resources throughout the solar system and to conduct scientific experiments with the aim of finding practical uses for them in our terrestrial economy and in a future space economy.

Zero-gravity environments hold enormous value for processing and manufacturing, and the Company would have the resources to subsidize a critical mass of these on-orbit production operations.

As such, a colony could be developed on the Moon, which could be used as a staging ground for these missions in addition to mining the regolith itself. A base of manufacturing could be developed on the Moon to provide in situ support for the exploration missions as well as for the solar power satellites in Earth orbit. Lunar construction, mining, and manufacturing would then fall under the purview of the second division. But with trillions to invest in space, the Joint Stock Company would have the resources to systematically surmount the major obstacles to a lunar colony including: return to the Moon, establishment of a permanent base, mastery of local resources, advent of low-cost transport to the Moon, and the export of lunar material for economic ends.

And yet the Moon could be exploited for other purposes beyond mining, in situ resource utilization, and as a staging ground for exploration missions. The most obvious of these purposes would be for tourism and leisure activities. The Company could leverage construction for an exploration base to establish a resort on the Moon that would include a hotel and accompanying recreational facilities. The second division would then also provide an administration for a lunar colony brimming with all sorts of activity.

Aside from the Moon, the second division could expand its operations to Earth orbit with the development of orbital “oases”. These oases could host additional space hotels and recreational facilities, and would be a good stopping-off point for astronauts on the way to the Moon and beyond, especially in emergencies.

The oases could also host manufacturing clusters. In near space, a fabulously rich Joint Stock Company could develop a crash program to establish orbital factories. Zero-gravity environments hold enormous value for processing and manufacturing, and the Company would have the resources to subsidize a critical mass of these on-orbit production operations. Not only would these operations provide in situ support for the solar power satellites, but they could improve the currency of technology for products brought to terrestrial markets as well. Obviously these oases could also support an incredibly sophisticated network of laboratories in space. With these facilities former NASA scientists and others could conduct the type of experiments for which they could only dream of previously.

The third division: spillover to the terrestrial economy

Perhaps the most beautiful aspect of space colonization would be the massive manufacturing base that would return to American soil. Americans at this moment in history have a competitive advantage over other nations in terms of manufacturing systems for space. Therefore, much of the production for space systems could not be outsourced. If there was, in fact, over a $1-trillion outlay on an annualized basis for space civilization, regions such as the Rust Belt and the Deep South would not only experience a revival in manufacturing, but quite possibly something of a renaissance. Large-scale manufacturing for space would lead to the development of many new manufacturing skills and techniques that could be applied across the rest of the American economy. American politicians are often fond stating that good manufacturing jobs have gone overseas and are not coming back. This would be a way to bring back even more advanced manufacturing jobs by creating a considerable amount of hi-tech manufacturing work. This effort could mobilize the American economy for space in a manner strikingly similar to how the American economy was mobilized for World War II.

Also of great socio-economic benefit would be all the technology created for infrastructure on the Moon and elsewhere that would spill over into the terrestrial economy. Efforts to create a space civilization would be a self-propelling economic growth machine. As humanity expands ever further into the cosmos, the quality of dual-use synergistic technologies would constantly improve. This technology would then not only be utilized to carry humans into the solar system, but would also be brought to market on Earth to make full use of all of its potential terrestrial applications. Space civilization would be an infinite well of technological innovation that could forever spur economic growth to greater heights than would otherwise be the case without this effort in the cosmos. As such, the Joint Stock Company could constitute a third division to manage these space technologies for the terrestrial market place, such as information technologies, biomedical technologies, and infrastructural technologies, among others. A vehicle for bringing these synergistic technologies developed for space to terrestrial markets would not only heavily increase revenue streams to the Joint Stock Company, but it would generate even more advanced manufacturing jobs in America and improve the quality of technology for terrestrial society.

In this regard, a space colonization program could in fact become a synergistic environmental program. One obvious example is water utilization technologies. In the coming century water will become increasingly scarce for many parts of the Earth. While it is unlikely that water usage on Earth would ever have to become as extreme as that in space, the technologies developed for water utilization in space could nevertheless improve the processes by which humanity uses water on Earth. This is but one example of an environmentally synergistic spinoff from space.

The construction of space civilization is a growth prospect.

Indeed, all of the techniques deployed for sustaining life in space could be adapted to varying degrees on Earth and could be deployed in efforts to achieve a far more symbiotic relationship with the environment of Earth. The ability to exist on other planets would mean the capability to exist in greater harmony with the home planet. Not only could the techniques developed to utilize scarce resources in space be adapted for greater resource maximization on Earth, but the infrastructural technologies developed for space could also be utilized to replace infrastructure on Earth as well. While the second division is busy building a civilization in the cosmos, the third division could be equally busy constructing a space age terrestrial society with all the advanced technology coming back from space. It would then be entirely possible for the Joint Stock Company to eventually become both the largest real estate holder in the cosmos and the largest real estate holder on Earth.

The fourth division: finance

Financial operations would constitute the fourth division of the Joint Stock Company. Like General Electric, the Company would have a consumer financing operation to aid in the sale of all the technology from space as well as an investment operation to make plays in capital markets around the world. With the profits from energy and technology sales in the terrestrial economy, the Company could create massive investment funds which would put the sovereign wealth funds of Asia and the Middle East to shame. As previously noted, the Company could have over $5 trillion in revenue. If the Company paid taxes it could still have over $3.25 trillion in profits. If the Company returned a trillion to shareholders and reinvested a trillion in space, then it would have over $1.25 trillion annually with which to invest in the capital markets while simultaneously building a large cash position.

And yet, if the Company was based offshore it would pay no taxes and could have over $5 trillion in profits. If, every year, the Company reinvested half back into space and kept the other half in cash, then after ten years it would have a cash position of over $25 trillion. In the event of a bursting economic bubble and resulting recession this could be enough money to prevent stock exchanges all around the world from collapsing. While investors were fleeing stocks the fourth division could sense a buying opportunity and enter the markets with the aforementioned $25 trillion and buoy the exchanges.

But regardless of what the Company does with all that cash, there would be an endless supply of product lines from the technology from space that could be spun off from the Company. In fact, the third division could very easily become so large as to be unwieldy. In an effort to keep the Company as streamlined as possible, it could spin off non-essential terrestrial technologies into their own independent businesses. There would likely be such a large technological explosion at the Company that the third division would become something of an assembly line for initial public offerings onto the capital markets. Needless to say, the fourth division would take the leading role, in conjunction with investment banks, in managing the financial flotation of these business units.

Conclusion

The construction of space civilization is a growth prospect. As such the Joint Stock Company, even with a potential valuation of $100 trillion, is something of a growth company. Indeed, the space and terrestrial assets of the Company could eventually become so large as to cast a shadow over the entire global economy (quite literally, as the “solar moons” of SSP systems would eclipse the Sun).

Clearly the Joint Stock Company would be a tremendous opportunity for the military-industrial complex. Not only could their shares be worth trillions, but the massive outlays in space would present incredible potential for sales growth as these aerospace and defense companies would be the prime contractors for all the systems in space. This opportunity could not come at a better time as the Pentagon’s budget will not grow very much over the coming decade and could even shrink.

The Joint Stock Company would be a tremendous opportunity for the oil companies as well. First of all, the shares they would hold in the Company could eventually attain a higher valuation than that of their entire market capitalization. Secondly, the possible dividends they could receive could rival the profits they were otherwise making from their petrochemical operations. What is more, they could adapt their business models to create platforms with which to extract natural resources from the planets and asteroids. The oil majors may find that, at some point in the 21st century, there will be more money to be had extracting natural resources from beyond Earth than from the Earth.

The IT sector stands to gain immeasurably as well, as the Joint Stock Company would initiate another explosion in information technology. Wiring colonies in space would definitely spark yet another wave of innovation in Silicon Valley. It could create economic conditions that would reinvigorate software giants like Microsoft. The techno-explosive effects of space civilization would undoubtedly be striking for the industry.

But the biggest beneficiaries would be the military and NASA. A total of $10 trillion in Company stock could create 10 thousand billionaires. What is more, there would be an immensity of resources for NASA and other scientists to pursue all of the science for which they have ever dreamed.

Whatever happens, the United States government does not have to go bankrupt at the end of the decade and then basically strike NASA from the budget while making drastic cuts to military space. With just a little bit of imagination and a healthy dose of optimism the future of the American national space effort could be sensational.


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