For years NASA has been shifting away from a centralized model — where it does everything — to a decentralized model, where the functions of the space program are increasingly shared by the public and private sectors.
As space exploration becomes the domain of intergalactic entrepreneurs, a new space economy is emerging. One with commercial shuttle flights, space tourism (mainly for rich people at the moment), asteroid mining, and someday soon, possibly even commercially run space stations and even space hotels. But this final economic frontier brings with it some important economic questions. Who does space belong to? Who has the right to profit off it? And who's responsible for it?
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