Friday, May 2, 2014 at 12:00pm
Frank H. T. Rhodes Hall, 253
Ezra's Round Table/Systems Seminar: Alexander MacDonald (Cal Tech) - Engineering Economic Development in the Solar System: Lessons from the Economic History of American Space Exploration
Over the last half-century there has been a rapid expansion in goods and services that involve, in some part of their production process, physical infrastructure located off of the surface of the Earth. We are engaging in economic development off of our home planet. The economic development of the solar system presently extends to around 36,000 kilometers from Earth. There, nations and corporations have placed hundreds of satellites that provide billions of dollars worth of communications and meteorological services. Closer in, within a few thousands and hundreds of kilometers from the Earth, hundreds of satellites provide a wide variety of scientific, global positioning, and commercial services, while construction has been completed on humanity’s ninth and largest space station. On the planet itself, government agencies, corporations and individuals plan for the expansion of economic development to the lunar surface, the asteroids, and Mars. The rising prominence of private-sector space activities is arguably starting a "Second Space Age".
This lecture will examine the long-run economic history of American space exploration – the boundary expansion process that precedes economic development – in order to extract some of the underlying lessons and trends useful for engineering an economic ecosystem in the solar system.