A new space race run by private companies.

Blanca Garrido Martín. Opositora a carrera diplomática.


Since 2016, the South African entrepreneur Elon Musk has claimed that it would be possible for humans to live on Mars. This is not his only project, his company is also the biggest supplier to NASA. Some experts have reported that the US has an important lead in this new space race thanks to SpaceX. Nevertheless, there are some criticisms of the fact that one private company leads American policies related to outer space. 


Desde 2016, el empresario sudafricano Elon Musk ha afirmado que sería posible que los humanos vivieran en Marte. Este no es su único proyecto, además su empresa es también el mayor proveedor de la NASA. Algunos expertos han informado que EE. UU. tiene una ventaja importante en esta nueva carrera espacial gracias a SpaceX. Sin embargo, hay algunas críticas al hecho de que una empresa privada lidere las políticas estadounidenses relacionadas con el espacio exterior.

Elton Musk, serious entrepreneur. Fuente:

The question we must ask ourselves whether is correct and licit that private companies lead the space race. To answer this, the essay will first examine the opportunities that bring private companies in this area. Subsequently, it will present the possibility of a deterioration of this system and the negative aspects of this relationship will be explained. Finally, this paper will find a middle ground where, in fact, a cooperation is needed to achieve common goals.

First, one of the opportunities of this current situation is that governments do not have to spend a huge part of their budget on outer space policies. Some of the problems with NASA’s missions were the resistance of American citizens to pay taxes for an institution without it bringing profits to society. In this sense, the credibility of NASA was decreasing while several latent failures were rising.

 Furthermore, the government had encountered problems in approving the national budget in which substantial funding was not supported by the majority of the electorate.

In this context, SpaceX and other private companies seem to be cheaper and more efficient than the public agencies.

Secondly, public agencies have a slow and costly bureaucracy that hinder the missions. Nominating some official posts and having the opportunity to offer new public staff, must be approved by the different Chamber of Representatives in each country. Moreover, depending on the parliamentary term, some decisions could be reversed by the new government, especially for the highest positions. 

However, there are also some dangers inherent in letting private companies be the head of these kind of projects. In this context, the interests of the CEO of a company could be quite different from those of the public agenda. A CEO seeks the maximum profit for its company and its efficiency. Conversely, public policies should be carried out according to the national interests and the political context. In addition, the State’s interests are the empowerment of its supremacy and its legitimacy, therefore, public agencies work with one main goal: to improve the progress of the nation. Nevertheless, private companies could change its customer base and move onto the other side of the balance and work for a competing country.  Going more into depth, there is a possibility that someone who is not a national citizen of a country, or even one who is, could receive a significant offer from a foreign country.

Looking to the future, according to some experts, this cooperation is needed. Private companies are more efficient, and they are not tied to political terms or election periods. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to develop a new technology and a new strategy for the years to come. Particularly, in a world context in which multilateralism has started to crumble, and the US has declared an economic conflict with China. In the same way, Parliaments should agree on the regulation these companies should follow according to the principles of State policy. 

In short, there are some opportunities arising from this current partnership, among them that governments do not have to spend a huge part of their budget on outer space policies and progress could be quicker than expected. Even if there is a risk of conflicts of interest between private companies and governments, and a danger of losing private contracts which seek out the best offers, according to some experts, this cooperation is needed for a more efficient development based on a proper regulation.

Finally, it could be possible to think that once this “new Cold War” is done, governments would not be interested in financing these projects. It has yet to be determined if this Space Race will offer significant steps in the discovery of the outer space.

1 Febrero 2023

ISSN 2340 – 2482


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Una nueva carrera espacial de la mano de empresas privadas de Blanca Garrido Martín. está licenciado bajo una Licencia Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-CompartirIgual 4.0 Internacional .