Getting to the moon is a noble and ambitious goal for any country, and other nations will probably follow in our footsteps here pretty soon. But private companies won’t go without the promise of profit, and until they do, space will be left unsettled, advocates say. The latest in a drumbeat of pro-colonization comes from the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is advocating the recognition of property rights on the moon or other celestial bodies.
On August 5, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory will reach the outer edge of the Martian atmosphere. The 8,500-pound craft will have traveled 352 million miles at speeds of up to 13,200 mph, but its real work will have only just begun. Over the next seven minutes it will plummet through 80 miles of atmosphere, withstanding temperatures of up to 3,800°F, and guide itself to a sudden halt in the massive Gale Crater.