Most of today’s space economy occupies low Earth orbit, a 1,200-mile-wide band that’s a slice of less than one one-thousandth of the Gravity Well.
The International Space Station, more than 200 miles up, also sits low in low Earth orbit. And the Moon? What about the Moon? At 240,000 miles on average, it lies only one fifth of the way to the top of the Well. Imagine if Columbus had reached the New World from Spain and somehow managed to keep sailing all the way to the Moon. His first voyage from Palos, Spain, to the Bahamas covered about 4,000 miles. From there to the Moon would have been 60 times as far.
Think about it. The American astronauts in 1969 traveled 60 times the distance that Columbus sailed to America. And the astronauts had to bring their own oxygen and fuel while pushing against Earth’s gravity. And most of the Gravity Well--the most lucrative parts of this frontier--exist beyond the Moon.