The cancellation of “The Expanse” by the SyFy Channel is the latest chapter of a story that is all too familiar to science fiction television fans. A favorite show with a loyal following gets canceled because it has not met ratings numbers.

After all, science fiction programs, especially those set in space, tend to be expensive to produce because of special effects costs.

However, the cancellation of such shows often is motivated by short-term thinking and a failure to recognize the potential for profits in keeping such shows on the air.

It all started with ‘Star Trek’

The classic example of how science fiction does not get the respect it deserves was the cancellation of “Star Trek” in 1969, ironically months before the Apollo moon landing. However, the third season of the groundbreaking space adventure series was not making the numbers, so the suits at NBC decreed that it had to go.

The rest of the story is familiar to many fans of science fiction. “Star Trek” took off in syndication, leading to organized fandom, then movies and spin-off series that have endured to this day. “Star Trek” has become a machine to print money. Its cancellation almost 50 years ago is now seen as one of the biggest mistakes in television history.

They never learn

Of course, programming suits at the networks have not learned the lesson of “Star Trek.” The list of genre series that have been canceled too soon is legendary. They include “Firefly,” Joss Whedon’s now cult classic space western, and “Stargate: Universe,” which ended on a cliffhanger thanks to a change in programming philosophy at the SyFy Channel.

Each of these shows could have been nurtured, building an audience, with subsidiary income streams developed. However, as with “Star Trek,” short-term thinking has killed “The Expanse,” another enjoyable and thought-provoking space adventure. This time it was confined to the Earth’s solar system and involved cut-throat politics, cutting-edge science, and an examination of some of the eternal questions of the human spirit.

‘The Expanse’ to Netflix?

The betting among observers of television programming is that “The Expanse” may be headed to Netflix, a live streaming service that seems to have a bottomless appetite for programming of all sorts. Netflix does not rely on ratings, in the traditional sense, to judge which shows stay and which have to go. It relies on subscribers to make money and not the selling of eyeballs to advertisers. The live-streaming network recently dropped the first season of an intelligent and well-done reimagining of another classic science fiction series, “Lost in Space.” “The Expanse” may well be a good fit there as well and another excuse to subscribe.