Just like the July day in 1969 when man first stepped on an alien planet, our Moon, today marks a new milestone in space exploration. Today marks the first time free enterprise has launched a payload into orbit.
On January 28, 1978, I was fortunate to attend a conference on the 20th anniversary of Sputnik and Explorer I in Huntsville, Alabama. It was a small, intimate, but exciting, conference, sponsored by National Space Institute, founded by Werner Von Braun (died the year before, so I didn't meet him, but several of his German colleagues with NASA were present) and the L5 Society (founded on the concepts of asteroid mining and space colonization of Dr Gerald K. O'Neill). I attended as president of the West Virginia Chapter of The World Future Society. Much of the conference focused on space industrialization and what could be accomplished in the next 20 years. Hugh Downs, current chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Space Society (a merger of the National Space Institute and the L5 Society) gave the keynote address, outlining a future for space exploration and development as yet to be realized.
National Space Institute... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Space_Society
A young New York stock broker, Gerry Driggers, was promoting a space industrialization capitalization firm, Space Systems International (SSI), that got a lot of interest from the participants as a way of accumulating the kind of capitalization for such endeavors. I visited him, briefly, in his Manhattan apartment, but I never invested in his firm that, apparently, never got off the ground.
L5 Newsletter of Conference and Drigger presentation...http://www.nss.org/settlement/L5news/L5news/L5news7802.pdf
Recent private space exploration and development (except earthly communication--telephone, Internet, and GPS) has been the realm of billionaire playboys. Today, a new era in
space development begins.