AMU Editor's Pick Original Space

Competition in Space Leads to Technology Development

By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, In Space News

The effects of the Cold War are still being felt in some international activities today. The U.S.-Soviet Union competition affected how all countries interacted in the international arena. Their bilateral contest determined policy development and national security positions for most of the latter half of the 20th century.

The space race propelled both nations to outdo each other in space exploits. The Soviet Union was first to put a satellite into orbit around the Earth, but the U.S. was first to land men on the moon and return them home safely.

Competition an Essential Part of Progress

However, the Cold War ultimately pushed both the U.S. and Russia into a new era of space technology and exploration. Most historians will agree that competition in space between the U.S. and the Soviet Union allowed both nations to make progress in aerospace technology faster.

Social scientists have long posited that competition is an important component of public administration. Without competition, services available to the public do not expand, but become stagnant. Competition can be thought of as a driving force to promote societal change whether the change originates in a public policy or from a business entity.

For example, Ari Halachmi and Marc Holzer, writing in Sage Journals, suggest that a more competitive posture vis-a-vis other public and private providers of services will “preserve the advantages of dealing with a government agency while insisting on better efficiency through competition.”

Private companies also entered the space race. As the online blog The Conversation notes, private companies joining the space race add a certain element of competition that propels the further development of space technology and exploration. Such a concept has a dramatic impact on society as a whole.

Fortune magazine cites numerous private companies that have entered the growing competitive space race with plans to create unique experiences for civilians. By competing with each other, these organizations force each other to develop unique products that will ultimately further advance space technology and exploration.

Space Competition Affects All of Society

Competition will continue to develop so technology can improve exploration of space. But it will also create a greater separation between the extremely wealthy and the rest of society who cannot afford to spend upwards of $250,000 for a brief ride to the outer edges of our atmosphere.

Depending on the current events in society, this competition might prove to be a key component in further economic downturns – particularly if the space programs are popular enough.

Space technology grew out of the United States and the Soviet Union seeking an international advantage in the military and political realms as well as a public relations coup. Private companies looking to explore space also seek an advantage over their adversaries. Competition has a profound effect on business and administration policy; space exploration is no different.

Wes O'Donnell

Wes O’Donnell is an Army and Air Force veteran and writer covering military and tech topics. As a sought-after professional speaker, Wes has presented at U.S. Air Force Academy, Fortune 500 companies, and TEDx, covering trending topics from data visualization to leadership and veterans’ advocacy. As a filmmaker, he directed the award-winning short film, “Memorial Day.”

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