When colonizing space, NASA blazes the trails, but private industry must build the roads. For common citizens to inhabit space, there must be a station in near Earth orbit, only 400 miles high, where dedicated commercial activities can take place. It will be a hub of commerce where industrial scientists can perform chemistry and biology, tourist can have lavish vacations, solar power stations can be built and serviced, and where satellites can be tested and deployed. This is now within the grasp of several businesses that are determined to see this vision through.
The commercialization of low Earth orbit can free NASA, and the other space agencies around the world, to colonize the Moon and Mars. In fact, these agencies will be some of the first customers on an industrial facility in space.
The commercial space station can be the crucible from which a new economy in forged, where better medicines, cleaner energy sources, stronger materials, and wider human experiences can be realized. These space stations are being deployed now. They will do practical, useful things in space for the common good of taxpayers. They will be new tools in the fight to solve medical and environmental problems to come. And they will provide jobs and tax revenue. The 21st century will be an industrial space century where average citizens can participate as entrepreneurs or customers.