Space Commercialization

  • John M. Logsdon
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology book series (PSHST)


The Reagan administration brought with it to Washington a firm belief in the principle that the U.S. government should not carry out activities that could just as well, if not better, be private sector responsibilities. That perspective had been reflected in the July 1982 statement of National Space Policy, which set as one of its six major space goals expanding “United States private-sector investment and involvement in civil space and space-related activities.” Between 1982 and 1984, first in parallel to the debates over whether to approve a space station and then on its own momentum, space commercialization was a major area of White House and interagency attention. One focus was transferring to private sector ownership and management all or part of the existing government programs observing the Earth from orbit. A second was both to allow U.S. industry to assume ownership and operation of the existing expendable launch vehicles (ELVs) that were due to be phased out as the space shuttle became the primary launch vehicle for all government payloads and to encourage entrepreneurial firms interested in developing new space launch capabilities. The first of these initiatives was a failure, while the attempt to commercialize ELVs got off to a slow start in the face of competition from the space shuttle for commercial contracts.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John M. Logsdon
    • 1
  1. 1.Space Policy InstituteThe George Washington UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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