We stand at the beginning of a new era. Post industrial revolution and post information revolution, our planet is but a cradle of mankind. With a growing population and finite resources, we need expand beyond Earth and human colonization of space is the next step.
In the 21st century, I am sure that the move towards sending human civilization into space will be one of the most significant movements of the century. The pioneers of this field are found in private industry, rather than government entities. The motivation for sending humans into space means colonization is inevitable and will begin before the end of this century has passed.
The field of space exploration has long been dominated by government and academia and yet progress has stalled for decades while other technologies advance. This is where private enterprise and the free market come to the rescue. Without the distraction of bureaucracy and politics, space programs flourish with fresh capital and innovative ideas.
This injection of resources will break down the largest barrier so far in space exploration: the cost of sending people into space. A competitive market will ensure lower costs as much as the expansion of computers from university research labs into the private consumer market has driven down the cost of owning a computer.
Despite the immaturity of the private spaceflight market, there is already enough competition to lower the cost of flight significantly. Early pioneers such as Masten Space Systems and Armadillo Aerospace created competition in developing new reusable launch vehicles. Future examples of such competitive forces will only further reduce the costs of flying into space.
Just as past settlers expanded and colonized new lands, the future of humanity lies in colonization of what lies beyond the horizon. The sun is just now beginning to rise on a new era.