As the 50th anniversary of the moon landing hovers on the horizon, a new boom of investment and energy for space exploration is taking off, says Mai’a Cross, a professor of political science and international affairs at Northeastern University. Private companies such as SpaceX and Boeing are competing to launch commercial flights into space at the same time that countries across the globe are beefing up space programs in order to reach Mars and the moon (again).
“We’re at a time when space is becoming very prominent in a way that it hasn’t, for the last 50 years,” says Cross, whose newest research focuses on the international collaboration that fostered the Space Race of the 1960s.
Space exploration “has always been about international cooperation and the betterment of humanity,” Cross says. But politicians and military officials viewed space “as a battlefield, as an arms race,” she says.