Up & Out verses Down & Around is an investment thesis on where the value of The Space Economy lies in the 21st Century courtesy of Captain Kirk. Ina 2022 interview William Shatner, aka Denny Crane, the Priceline Guy or as the investor group we’re focusing on knows him best, Captain James T. Kirk, caught a ride on Jeff Bezos Blue Origin Rocket into orbit. Why Captain Kirk hitch hiked to the entrance of the galaxy as a 90-year-old is so important to Space travel, tourism and exploration can not be articulated in a short investment thesis. A funny thing happened though when Captain Kirk finally ascended to Space and glimpsed the abyss of it all.
"My trip to space was supposed to be acelebration; instead, it felt like a funeral."
Kirkwent on to expound on the overwhelming sense of grief he felt as he looked out into the endless darkness and “The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness.”
What the Captain experienced is called the “Overview Effect”. The Overview Effect is a well documented phenomenon of the emotional tug the earth has on astronauts when they’re finally able to look back and see the fragile blue marble that is Mother Earth hovering in an expanse of nothingness. Author Frank White first coined the term in1987: “There are no borders or boundaries on our planet except those that we create in our minds or through human behaviours. All the ideas and concepts that divide us when we are on the surface begin to fade from orbit and the moon. The result is a shift in worldview, and in identity.”
Up and Out: 80 Yearsof investing in the Space Industry
Sincethe end of World War II the majority of investments in Space have been focused on Up and Out technology. In many regards we could posit that all investments into the Space Industry for the last 80 years have been focused on the Up and Out of the Space industry; with cash flowing into the engines of innovation, fueling humanity’s capacity to escape the bottom of our local gravity well. Alas, eighty years of investing to get to the point where we could safely send a 90 year old Space icon into orbit and all he wanted to do was come back down to Earth.
Down and Around: Investingin the future of The Space Economy
Whatdoes a 90 year old know that a 45 year old doesn’t? That is a little different than asking, “What does a 20 year old know that a 10 year old doesn’t?” or “What does a 40 year old know that a 20 year old doesn’t?” As if you could go back and talk to yourself, half a lifetime ago, what words of advice would you give yourself? After 90 years of dreaming of Space Captain Kirk went and said, “Take me home.” What does a 90 year old know that a 45, 50 or 60 year old doesn’t? He might know that the real value of The Space Economy resides not in Up and Out technology of the Space Industry but the Down and Around breakthroughs of The Space Economy; specific to solving for Home.
GlobalWarming, Climate Change, clean drinking water and other “infrastructure” challenges humanity face right now on Earth. Because Captain Kirk has a point. Suppose we never achieve Up and Out technology sufficient to travel between stars? That is real long term investing by the way. And instead must live on Spaceship Earth for the full extent of our species' lifespan? In that scenario, the real ROI isn’t in Up and Out space industry tech but developing the Down and Around Space Economy technology that makes home safe, secure and habitable for billions of years to come. Specifically around:
- Recycling waste water at industrial scale
- Air purification / carbon sequestrationtechnologies at global scale
- Vertical farming, sufficient to feed 9.8B peopleby 2050 and upwards of 20B by 2150 when gene therapy and 3D printed organs all but render all Humans as immortal
About the Authors
George S. Pullen and Samson Williams are founders of Milky Way Economy, a Washington, DC based think tank who specialize in understanding the economic foundations of the Fifth Industrial Revolution and the Space Economy. In addition to writing, researching and being investors in 5th Industrial Revolution companies, Samson and George are adjunct professors at the University of New Hampshire School of Law and instructors at Columbia University in NYC. Additionally, George is a Marine (former) and guest lecturer at the National Defense University.