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Holding Back Progress

Steven Moore has an article about how government policy has been holding back the spread of broadband and television through overregulation. In the process, though he has a blooper with some interesting implications.

New multichannel TV and high-speed Internet providers now have the technologies to bolt a wireless local transmitter to a tower at a fraction of the cost of what it costs to design and pay NASA (or the Chinese) to launch your $300 million telecommunications satellites into orbit.

I'm a little surprised that someone as otherwise knowledgeable as Mr. Moore doesn't know that communications satellites are launched by commercial providers--not NASA. NASA hasn't launched a commercial communications satellite since before the destruction of the Challenger.

But setting that aside, if he's correct, and ground-based systems start to replace satellites for telecommunications, it will put even more pressure on the commercial launch industry. This may explain why Boeing is no longer pursuing commercial contracts for the Delta. It also means that, for people who are looking for markets for new launch systems, there's probably only one viable one right now--people who will pay to go.

Posted by Rand Simberg at October 29, 2003 09:06 AM
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If suborbital passenger service is all we have... then we're done.

Barnstormers didn't create the airline industry... mail delivery did... followed by passenger service, then freight. Bottom line, we need trade routes, which means colonies and places to go. But it's only my opinion.

Posted by ken anthony at October 29, 2003 12:07 PM

If suborbital passenger service is all we have...

It's not all we have. It's just the beginning.

Posted by Rand Simberg at October 29, 2003 02:00 PM

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