Tycoon flying to the Moon? Private space programs have the last laugh, inspired by Robert Heinlein’s “Requiem,” the 2003 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

The Libertarian Futurist Society’s Appreciation series, launched in 2019 to celebrate the Prometheus Awards’ four-decade history, makes clear why each award-winner deserves recognition as a pro-freedom and/or anti-authoritarian work.

Here’s an appreciation for “Requiem,” Robert Heinlein’s short story, the 2003 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction.

By Eric S. Raymond

For a good 40 years – between 1957 and 1997 – the premise of Robert Heinlein’s 1940 short story “Requiem” looked dated and quaint, almost laughable.  Private space programs?  A tycoon flying to the moon? Absurd!  For those were the decades in which everyone was sure that space programs had to be vast government-run leviathans.

The Old Man had the last laugh.  In the new millennium government-run spaceflight is moribund; all the action is at companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. It is now the era of government-run-space programs that is beginning to look quaint, as the political will to push them evaporated with the end of Cold War competition in 1992.

But this story, and the related “The Man Who Sold The Moon”, resembles today’s reality in a way that is more than coincidence.

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