Space Commerce

Articles by Donald F. Robertson

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These documents may be distributed at will, but only if they are not changed in any way, and only if the author's name, the copyright notice, the names of the journals they first appeared in, and a copy of this notice remain attached to each article. In addition, these articles may not be sold for money, or published for sale in any way, without the author's prior written permission.

Is commercial spaceflight in the United States going the way of the automobile industry?  Here is evidence that it is.

Why the Satellite Radio companies Sirius and XM should not have been allowed to merge.

In the ancient world, the "silk road" was key to opening up vast areas of almost uninhabitable desert for exploration and trade.  Can we use similar techniques to open the inner Solar System today?

Hardly a day goes by without an aerospace trade journal landing on my doorstep.  Every one is chock full of articles about space-related companies fleeing the "troubled" commercial space market to chase the government dollar.  The most dramatic example was Boeing’s decision to stop marketing the new Delta-IV launch vehicle to concentrate on the larger and more rapidly growing military market.  Is relying on the military dollar really in the long-term interests of the United States' aerospace industry? (Acrobat file.)

Where is the commerce in NASA's plans to return to Earth's moon? (Acrobat file.)

Reach Out and Touch the Stars.  This article was written for Science Fiction readers and originally appeared in Analog (Mid-December 1995).  It remains a good overview of the changes in the communications satellite industry that dramatically increased the size and importance of the space industry in the 1990s.  I also discuss what those changes mean to the space program, and I attempt to place them in perspective in the long sweep of human history.  (All of that in one - long - article!)  For another take on the same subject, here is a letter that appeared in the British science fiction journal, Interzone.

All kinds of industries benefit from satellite communications, not least fundamentalist religious groups.

Space and the Immune System.  This article, which appeared in Space & Communications in 1994, was one of my greatest early challenges: I had to explain biotechnological concepts to aerospace industry managers.  In addition, it is my journalistic policy to let the scientists I have quoted review what I've written about them, and then to make any changes they suggest unless I have a very good reason not to.  I quickly discovered that biotechnologists are very particular about the terminology and approaches used to describe their work, whether or not they can be deciphered by outsiders.  I tried to use their words, and their methods of presenting the concepts, while still making some sense to my audience.

An article about Satellite Radio written just before it came about. 

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