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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Age of Discovery 2.0, Part 2: America’s New Destiny in Space, With Glenn Reynolds

00:00 37:15
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With private space companies launching rockets, satellites, and people at a record pace, and with the U.S. and other governments committing to a future in space, today’s guest Glenn Harlan Reynolds looks at how we got here, where we’re going, and why it matters for all of humanity. Reynolds is a law professor and former executive vice president of the National Space Society, thinks commercial space is essential to the future.
Author of the book “America’s New Destiny in Space,” he discusses America’s future in space, which will be dominated by the private sector rather than the work of government space agencies. We explore how space will inspire innovation, possibly create trillions of dollars in wealth, and pump incredible new energy into human civilization.
Reynolds describes three phases of spaceflight in history so far. Visionary (early 20th century), “command-economy,” from the Apollo to the Shuttle eras, and finally, a “sustainable” phase, which he defines as “spaceflight that generates enough economic value to pay its own way.”
This means that getting into space has become far cheaper than it used to be, and that it promises to get much cheaper still. This creates immediate possibilities like cheap satellite Internet from SpaceX’s Starlink, but also more exotic technologies: space-based solar power, asteroid mining, and helium-3 extraction from the Moon. Reynolds also talks about what we need to do to bring about this future: little regulation and the government acting as a customer, but otherwise getting out of the way.
November 04, 2021
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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