With the death of Mars One, there are no high-profile companies looking to settle Mars besides SpaceX.
Mars settlement future is currently single-string. Reliant on a single company. What can we do to change that?
Am I missing someone?
On a second note, I’m really missing XCOR. They had something special. SpaceX is doing very well. Has the right architecture for launch (reusability) and wants humans space settlement. And they have a drive to get it done quickly and execute. Blue Origin has only the first two (right architecture and wanting settlement), although hopefully the others will follow… someday?
XCOR had that (although their execution was well beyond concept phase, it did end up lacking a bit). They unfortunately did not have the financial backing of the other two. But they had something more, that’s kind of special: a sort of egalitarian sensibility. They were often fairly right-libertarian in spoken philosophy (as was common among early New Space companies), but they weren’t founded by charismatic billionaires or near-billionaires and so were more worker-focused. They offered free space rides (as part of the shakedown process for Lynx, as I understand it) to all their employees who wished it. That is something special.
So even beyond Mars, we basically have just two companies with the right mix of backing, vision, execution, and technology, and only one is really executing right now (Virgin Galactic seems too small right now… and with the split, seems less likely to be pursuing orbital anytime soon). It’d really be nice if we had a third or a fourth, particularly if they had an XCOR-like egalitarian esprit de corps. Perhaps Musk could eventually be persuaded to transition SpaceX in that direction? Or Bezos/Blue? (I wouldn’t hold my breath for either, but it is a possibility… You can’t have Musk’s democracy on Mars without, you know, democracy… but power is seductive.)
Additionally, I have some ideas for space commerce that require the ability to launch one or two people to Earth orbit (with recovery) for less than a million dollars (ideally <$100k). But on a dedicated launch. XCOR had that, see here: https://spacenews.com/34930xcor-aerospace-makes-plans-for-reusable-orbital-vehicle/
…but neither SpaceX nor Blue appear to be offering anything close to that now or in the future.