Is this the dawn of the space age?

Dale Amon over at Samizdata thinks that we are finally witnessing the dawn of the space age. Mad Dog makes the comment to Dale's earlier post that the Space Age began last century with Sputnik and Gagarin. I have to disagree with Mad Dog. The Information Age did not begin with Babbage, or even when IBM started selling computers. The Information Age began when the average person could buy a PC, and most businesses were using computers. There are several signs that we are truly in the space age: Joe Sixpack decides he wants to go to space, and does so, spending an amount similar to any other expensive vacation. Bob Businessman needs to get to Johanesburg ASAP, so gets a ticket for the one hour rocket trip from JFK Spaceport to Johanesburg. Intel and AMD build fab facilities on orbit. In short, the vast majority of society is able to participate. Clearly, we are not in the space age.

Now to get to the question of whether we are at the dawn of the space age. One often hears that "it is darkest before dawn", and we were recently in a very dark period for space flight. Two of the greatest hopes for making space a little closer, Beal and Rotary went belly up. DC-X was long dead, killed by bureaucratic ineptitude. Several planned satellite constellations were cancelled and a couple of satellite companies went banktrupt. All in all, the close of the last millenia was very bleak for the space enthusiast. Today it is a little lighter.

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