Conference website:

Date: March 15 2001

Location: Cato Institute, corner of Massachusetts Avenue and 10th Street,
Washington DC

Americans are fascinated by outer space. Most would take a trip into orbit if they could. But critics maintain that, in the three decades since men last walked on the Moon, NASA has gone from science and exploration to bureaucracy and politics, with high costs keeping space inaccessible to most entrepreneurs as well as to the general public.

Privatization and deregulation of industries such as airlines, trucking, and telecommunications have reduced costs and created new economic opportunities. The communications and information revolution has transformed the economy and society. It is time to unleash the dynamics of free markets in the space sector.

Entrepreneurs already are providing private launch services, satellites, and modules for broadcast and Internet services. Other planned innovations include collecting and beaming energy to Earth from orbit, a lunar rover sponsored by Radio Shack, and even space adventure travel for private citizens. But such profitable plans require radical reforms of America’s space policy and the role of NASA.

At the Cato conference, former representative Bob Walker, a science adviser to President George W. Bush, will discuss the future of space policy. The first panel will review the development of America’s space program and NASA’s bureaucratic and cost problems. The second panel will examine the legal and regulatory barriers to private space activities and the lessons learned from deregulation and privatization of other industries. Our luncheon speaker will be Lou Dobbs, formerly of CNN’s “Moneyline,” now the head of The third panel will explore current and potential private space efforts. The final panel will discuss the various reforms being considered on Capitol Hill, how the International Space Stationmight be run by the private sector, and what kind of a private property rights regime is necessary if space is to be the next free-market frontier.