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ESA commits more than $100 million to encouraging private space companies

Capitalism in space: The governmental officials representing all of the partners in the European Space Agency this week decided to commit $122 million to a program designed to encourage private independent and competing space companies.

This budget represented a 17% increase.

The ScaleUp programme, which has two elements, supports a company along its entire life cycle. First, it assists in the development of the enterprise with business incubation, business acceleration, intellectual property and technology transfer services (ScaleUp Innovate), and then, it facilitates the scaling up of their products on new markets (ScaleUp Invest).

ScaleUp is business-focused and not technology or sector specific and applies within all ESA programmes. This programme targets start-up companies, applied research and innovation centres, and more mature companies such as SMEs, Mid-Caps and large system integrators.

While encouraging news, the language of the press release and the size of the budget indicates that these European governments are being dragged kicking and screaming into this new capitalist aerospace world. It is clear that ESA has been losing out by sticking with its government-run and government-owned Arianespace operation. At the same time, it is also clear that ESA officials and their governments are showing the same reluctance Congress showed in the last decade when NASA wanted to transition from its government-run and -owned system. At that time, Congress consistently resisted budgeting the commercial space line in NASA’s budget, thus delaying the launch of both Dragon and Starliner significantly.

In the end the effectiveness of competition, private property, and freedom however won out in the U.S. I expect it will do the same in Europe, though it might take another decade or so before Europe’s governments realize it.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Ray Van Dune

    “Capitalism in space: The governmental officials representing all of the partners in the European Space Agency this week decided to commit $122 million to a program designed to encourage private independent and competing space companies.
    This budget represented a 17% increase.”

    How is it they say? Capitalism: always about to descend on Europe, but ends up landing in America!

  • Call Me Ishmael

    The way this reads to me is “ESA will involve the government in every aspect of space startups, down to the smallest detail”. I don’t think that will go the way they’re advertising.

  • Star Bird

    Okay lets start building those Star Bases right away

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