Old versus New - the Washington Post has a great summary article on the contrasts of “New Space” versus “Old Space”. While there are still many traditionalists insisting that space exploration can only succeed in the hands of government, the recent accomplishments of alternate approaches has strengthened the positions of independent organizations previously dismissed as simple minded fools.
To hear the dreamers tell it, [Mojave] is the next Silicon Valley. The Mojave Air and Space Port is the spiritual heart of the industry that people call “New Space.”
Old Space (and this is still the dreamers talking) is slow, bureaucratic, government-directed, completely top-down. Old Space is NASA, cautious and halting, supervising every project down to the last thousand-dollar widget. Old Space is Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman. Old Space coasts on the glory of the Apollo era and isn’t entirely sure what to do next.
New Space is the opposite of all that. It’s wild. It’s commercial, bootstrapping, imaginative, right up to the point of being (and this is no longer the dreamers talking) delusional.
[…]The true believers imagine that, someday soon, robotic vehicles will mine asteroids for precious metals, including gold and platinum. Moon dirt will be transformed into rocket fuel for missions to Mars. Closer to home, FedEx will send a package from New York to Tokyo, via space, in half an hour.
Head over to the original article for a great collection of commentary on both sides of the debate. In the end, only the events of future history will settle who was right, but the great news is: no matter who loses the argument, humanity wins.