On June 19th, a groundbreaking ceremony in the town of Upham, New Mexico was held for the world’s first commercial spaceport, “Spaceport America.” British company Virgin Galactic received $200 million in taxpayer incentives to fund the project that will take space tourists on a short flight above the atmosphere for $200,000 dollars. The ceremony included actors dressed as Spanish Conquistadors, who once explored and conquered in the area, symbolic of the link between trailblazers of the past and future. However, this representation may have been more telling than was intended. The Conquistadors, hailed by history as great explorers, were more motivated by financial gain than lofty goals of discovery.
Some citizens have criticized the use of taxpayer money to fund this project. While it may pump some money into the local economy (there will be hangar space for rent and satellite launching capabilities), a Marxist interpretation would call for greater focus on the benefits Virgin Galactic may receive while placing almost half the financial risk upon the people. Peter Dickens writes that the only way for Capitalism to continue expanding is to seek new places to extend its reach; the era of commercialized space may have officially begun.
“The Cosmos as Capitalism’s Outside” by Peter Dickens