German scientists had been experimenting with missiles in the 1930’s, however it was not until the end of WWII that the US and USSR became actively involved with experimenting and improving space weaponry. The mindset of the countries was to develop ways to defeat enemies without losing human lives on the battlefields. Tensions between the US and USSR were very voliatle and the two powerhouse governments and their military forces raced to see who could develop long range missiles capable of reaching the other first. It took an enormous amount of money for the military to develop these programs. Since the first real objective was using space as a vessel of war, it makes sense that the governments would be the first to ‘set the rules’.
After the two countries had successfully developed long range missiles, that lead to the need of knowing if one another were going to be attacked. Thus, satellites were developed to monitor the air space. I think this was the point that the governments gained sole control of space. It could easily be argued to any commercial company, including the airlines, that government officials had a need to know detailed flight plans. It wasn’t until the Eisenhower administration that talks began to shift toward ways to control the weapons battle in space. This administration formed NASA which had the job of researching space exploration with civilian interests at heart. Within a few years of the formation of NASA, the US had its first manned space orbit and not long after the US had landed on the moon.
Great benefits came when the focus of space changed from war to peace. Weather and communication satellites gave valuable information to help keep people prepared and increased the ways to convey the data. Astronauts were sent to other planets to obtain information on the Universe and study their climates and atmospheres, perhaps in hopes of finding other climates suitable for human life outside of Earth.
I think the world would have been very different if private corporations would have reached space first, and would have sent researchers to other planets. One main difference is corporations would have to make space exploration profitable. Instead of manned space stations that collected data they would have used them to make places for people to live or work. The same for planets, it would have been data collection to see how we could make the place livable so companies could potentially sell parts of the planet. I think this would have resulted in more advanced options for everyday humans to live in space, however as the government saw it would have come at likely a greater loss of lives for those who chose to do it.
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