The Implications of a Space Democracy

Dylan Taylor
7 min readApr 19, 2024

Throughout our reign as Earth’s dominant species, there have arisen many unique visions for economic and social order. These distinct approaches have, in part, shaped and driven the most vital characteristics of our collective existence — from trade and foreign policy to security and health, to education and entertainment. Now, as humankind converges on an increasingly tangible space ecosystem with space-based infrastructure, a new prospect has emerged at an ideological crossroads: space governance.

With much of the high frontier still standing as uncharted, malleable territory, Earth’s leading nations are now looking to stake their claim and contribute to the growing space economy. Crucially, this process entails a melding of starkly different economic and political ideologies, which will almost certainly be a point of international contention as this progressive concept becomes reality. Democratic nations, in particular, will look to build a space culture founded on social norms, an egalitarian counter-current to those who would instead use space as an extension of authoritarianism, which could create lasting consequences for space accessibility and development.

In this regard, the US has an opportunity to lead this so-called second space race by example, promoting equality of access and opportunity, and inclusive global leadership — those values that have helped it remain one of the world’s most forward-thinking and influential nations. These principles spread beyond social cohesion; they stand to open crucial new doors to vital resources, progressive federal policies, and infrastructural protocols that could bolster space-related development rather than silo it. This approach could allow a more seamless process for space research and exploration, reinforcing the nascent space economy by prioritizing collective knowledge and emphasizing sustainability.

As space-related endeavors grow to shape on-Earth initiatives and policies (and vice-versa), the installation of a space democracy could not only expand such values — it could create a symbiotic partner for similar values at home, both sectors growing and learning in tandem to augment one another. By allowing the rise of a strictly authoritarian presence in space, we could risk undermining and regressing strides in democratic values, for which the world has made great progress in the past half-century.

However, space democratization is by no means a cut-and-dry undertaking, with authoritarianism representing a potentially inevitable, default economic foundation due to certain space-related challenges. As noted by David Colby Reed for MIT Media Lab:

“Authoritarian relations would appear to be the likeliest social arrangement [for the space economy], for it is difficult for a free society of equals to take root in a context in which surveillance is total, government is private, and, due to the hostility of the space environment, noncompliance with authorities is lethal.”

To push back against these notions, Reed suggests the fast-acting and persistent implementation of democratic governance — namely, democratic social relations in our future space economic structures and habitations.

For the US, I believe this action begins with establishing a clear vision of its space development plans, transcending research and arms control alone; it must make democratic uniformity an incentive for those nations that may oppose it on Earth, rooting such cohesion in the greater good of space resource utilization and collective welfare. Most importantly, it must establish transparent intentions for regulation and military action — all of which can give this vision the best chance of achieving viability.

The reality is that much of the rising space economy remains enigmatic — even utopian. In a perfect scenario, this ambitious venture would reach proper fruition by means of geopolitical harmony and a shared desire to move on from antiquated, draconian social norms. If space is to remain a competition, however, the world’s democratic powers must prioritize its healthy, sustainable development, and maintain a hopeful upward trajectory for our species as a whole.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Originally published at https://www.newsweek.com on April 19, 2024.

Dylan Taylor, Blue Origin Commercial Astronaut

About The Author Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor is a global business leader, commercial astronaut, thought leader and philanthropist. Currently, Dylan serves as Chairman & CEO of Voyager Space, a multi-national space exploration firm focused on building the next generation of space infrastructure for NASA and other global space agencies.

Dylan has been recognized by Harvard University, SpaceNews, the BBC, the Financial Times, Pitchbook,CNBC, CNN and others as having played a seminal role in the growth of the private space industry. As an early-stage investor in more than 50 emerging space ventures, including Axiom, Kepler, York, Astrobotic, LeoLabs, Relativity, and Planet, Dylan is widely considered the most active private space investor in the world.

Dylan’s technical background, global business experience and unbridled passion for space make him a unique figure within his industry. As a thought leader and futurist, he has written many popular pieces on the future of the space industry for Forbes, FastCompany, Newsweek, SpaceNews, The Space Review, and Space.com. As a speaker, Dylan has keynoted many of the major space conferences around the world and has appeared regularly on Bloomberg, Fox Business, and CNBC.

Dylan has extensive global business experience as both a board director and CEO in several industries, including advanced electronics, finance and real estate. He previously served as a Director for UMB Bank, a Fortune 500 company based in Kansas City and as a mutual fund director for the Jackson Funds where he oversaw assets of $8B across 130 distinct funds. He has also served in the roles of CEO, President and Board Director for multinational companies like Prudential PLC, Honeywell, Colliers and Jones Lang LaSalle. Dylan was recognized as a Fortune 1000 CEO with P&L responsibility in excess of $3B and operations encompassing 15,000 employees in over 60 countries. In addition, Dylan has participated in 4 IPOs over the course of his career.

Dylan is a leading advocate of space manufacturing and the utilization of in-space resources to further space exploration and settlement. In 2017, he became the first private citizen to manufacture an item in space when the gravity meter he co-designed and commissioned was 3D printed on the International Space Station. The historic item is now housed in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Dylan is an explorer of note. On December 11th, 2021 Dylan became just the 606th human to go to space as part of the crew of Blue Origin’s NewShepard Mission 19. Accordingly, Dylan earned his commercial astronaut wings with the FAA and his universal astronaut wings from the Association of Space Explorers.

He is also one of only a handful of humans to have descended to the deepest part of the world’s oceans, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench as part of the Limiting Factor Expedition in July of 2022. In that mission, Dylan descended with pilot Victor Vescovo to a depth in excess of 10,800 meters (35,500 feet) into an area of the Mariana Trench that had never been visited by humans. Dylan is the youngest human to have been to the deepest part of the world’s oceans and crossed the Karman line into Space. Dylan has been a member of the Explorers Club since 2014.

Dylan maintains an extensive philanthropic impact on the space industry. In 2017, Dylan founded the nonprofit and social movement, Space for Humanity, which seeks to democratize space exploration and develop solutions to global issues through the scope of human awareness to help solve the world’s most intractable problems. Space for Humanity has successfully sent two citizen astronauts to space via Blue Origin including both the first Mexican-born woman (Katya Echazareta), and first African-born woman (Sara Sabry). Building upon his passion and support for the space industry, Dylan serves as a strategic advisor for both the Archmission and the Human Spaceflight Program and is a co-founding patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which promotes the growth of commercial space activity. Additionally, he is also a leading benefactor to the Brooke Owens Fellowship, Patti Grace Smith Fellowship and Mission: Astro Access.

Dylan is the founder and Chairman of Multiverse Media, an integrated global media company focused on science and technology, with an emphasis on space. Multiverse is the parent company of the popular space philosophy website 2211.world as well as the Ad Astra Dinners, a Jeffersonian-style dinner series featuring some of the world’s leading influencers discussing the future of humanity in space. Another subsidiary of Multiverse Media, Multiverse Publishing, publishes books by leading authors including Frank White, Isaac Asimov and Gerard K. O’Neill. Multiverse is also the executive producer of the documentary film, The High Frontier and the forthcoming film, Fortitude.

For his influence as a global leader and his commitment to creating a positive impact on the world, Dylan has been honored with numerous personal and professional accolades in recent years. The World Economic Forum recognized Dylan as a Young Global Leader in 2011 and a full member of the World Economic Forum in 2014. That same year he was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. In 2020, Dylan was recognized by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation with their top honor for business and finance, following in the footsteps of 2019’s inaugural winner, the late Paul Allen
and subsequent winners Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

Dylan Taylor earned an MBA in Finance and Strategy from the Booth School of Business at University of Chicago and holds a BS in Engineering from the honors college at the University of Arizona, where he graduated Tau Beta Pi and in 2018 was named Alumnus of the year. He is also a graduate of the Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century program at Harvard University.

Dylan and his family reside in Denver, Colorado where he is active locally with Colorado Concern and theColorado Spaceport. In his spare time, Dylan enjoys hiking, competing in triathlons and spending time outdoors. As a weekend warrior athlete, Dylan has more than 25 top ten finishes and 25 age group wins to his credit, and he regularly interviews world class athletes whom have shown extraordinary resilience as the host of the Legendary Podcast. He is married to legal expert, consultant and author Gabrielle V. Taylor with whom he has two teenage daughters.

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Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor is a global business leader and philanthropist. He is an active pioneer in the space exploration industry