Commercializing Earth Orbit
In addition to applying to the space sector Ronald Reagan’s conviction that the free market was the preferred path to future progress, there were three other influences supporting Reagan administration initiatives toward space commercialization during the 1983–1984 period. One was the emergence, just as the Reagan administration arrived in Washington, of a variety of private sector actors interested in space commercialization. Second, there was also a sudden flowering of new, entrepreneurial commercial space ventures. A third influential factor leading to the increased emphasis on commercialization was high enthusiasm regarding the potential economic payoffs from various commercial space activities. While the revenue from privatizing remote sensing and commercializing expendable launch vehicles was expected to be relatively modest, payoffs from new commercial activities carried out in Earth orbit were forecast to be in the multiple billions of dollars. These influences combined as the foundation for crafting a Reagan administration policy toward encouraging and facilitating commercial activities in orbit.