1. The FAA is asking for a budget for a prize fund for advances in "space access" associated with commercial space transportation. Prize funds make good sense when you have market failures associated with innovation. Joe Stiglitz has talked a lot about the economics behind them. Prize funds also played a role in American industrialization - they were very popular in a variety of industries in the early republic. This is classic American industrial policy.
2. Southwest Research Institute has announced contracts today to fly a payload of three scientists into sub-orbital space. Apparently this is the first time this sort of thing has been contracted out by a private firm. This is a very important development - the division of labor is limited by the extent of the market. Clearly we're seeing a growth in demand sufficient enough not just for NASA to contract out, but for private companies to as well. That means greater division of labor, greater specialization, and more innovation.
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