We've just learned that Peter Diamandis, Eric Anderson, James Cameron, Eric Schmidt and Larry Page are launching a new venture, Planetary Resources Inc. Their goal is to focus on space exploration and the natural resources we might find there. The announcement has been greeted by a fair amount of skepticism. Theirs has been called a “quixotic quest” by the Wall Street Journal and CNBC viewers are tweeting about what these men must be smoking.
I say, thank goodness America still has visionaries who understand that we must lead in space.
I served on President Bush’s Commission on Space Exploration. This was a bi-partisan gathering of scientists, business people, policy-makers, politicians as well as the NASA Administrator. This was a group of varied political views and experiences and yet there was universal agreement that American leadership in space is vital to our national self- interest. There was also consensus that while government had to play a vital role, the private sector should play a large role as well.
We know that space exploration captures the imagination of all Americans.
This is why the Air and Space Museum is consistently the most visited in our nation’s capital.
This is why thousands of people in and around jaded Washington DC, rushed to their roof tops and to the banks of the Potomac River to catch a glimpse of the last flight of the space shuttle on its way to that same museum.
And it is why as people watched that flight they turned wistfully to one another and sighed about the “end of an era”.
It is why when the Space Commission would hold public hearings across America, parents would bring their children so that these kids could tell us how much space meant to them.
But space is about more than emotion.
"The discoveries and capabilities that will accrue from space exploration will help define economic leadership in the twenty-first century."
China, Brazil, Japan and Russia are all investing heavily in their own space technology because they know what we should remember.
The discoveries and capabilities that will accrue from space exploration will help define economic leadership in the twenty-first century. Indeed, I believe that four vital industries will shape this century: space, energy, information technology and health. Our nation must lead in all four if we are to retain our competitive advantage and remain the leading economy in the world.
Imagine if we had not landed a man on the moon over forty years ago. Imagine all the scientific knowledge, the technological advances, the math and engineering graduates that might never have been. Imagine our standing in the world had Russia bested us in space. Imagine how different our national psyche would be.
Our government may not have the vision to continue to invest in space exploration. Thank goodness some Americans do.
Ms. Fiorina is the former Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard . She has served on the Boards of Cisco, Kellogg, Merck and Taiwan National Semi-Conductor. She is currently Chairman of Good 360, the largest on-line product donation marketplace in the world.