“The end of the cold war in 1989 brought a brief moment of global optimism, leading to the second, more collaborative space age. The International Space Station was assembled over 13 years and, since 2000, people of multiple nationalities have been living in space constantly, working together on experiments in the orbiting laboratory.

However, this second era also saw a dip in efforts to get humans farther out into space, symbolised by Nasa’s space shuttle programme that never sent people beyond Earth’s orbit and was eventually disbanded in 2011, in large part because the US government did not want to keep bankrolling its high costs. Afterwards, Washington had to rely on Moscow’s Soyuz rockets to get its astronauts into space.

Yet those high costs have now been driven down by private businesses entering the scene, often as government contractors. In the past few years, some of these businesses have started to make money, although not from headline-grabbing reasons such as space tourism but mostly for sending up communication satellites, especially broadband internet. Many estimates suggest the global space industry could generate revenues of more than $1tn within the next two decades.”

From The Guardian.