Dylan Taylor, Chairman & CEO, Voyager Space Holdings.
Science doesn’t always yield predictable outcomes. Much of what we enjoy are happy accidents emerging from unexpected activities, and we often derive benefits from lofty goals that at first have unclear answers.
For example, the Apollo program began with little knowledge of how to make spacesuits or keep humans alive in space. Nine years stood between President Kennedy’s famous speech declaring America’s intention to put someone on the Moon and the eventual achievement of that goal.
In the process, advancements from space exploration inspired similar vigor in other areas. If astronauts could be equipped to traverse the distance between Earth and the Moon, what else could we accomplish?
I urge businesses and leaders across industries to look to space research and related technology to help determine stronger business practices and facilitate a better world. I believe that even those businesses not directly connected to the space industry can benefit from the stronger collaborations and advances that research into space brings.
Lessons From Space Innovations
As an example of how SpaceTech innovations often lead to improvements on Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) water purification technology has over a 90% recycling rate.
Various industries, including agriculture, healthcare and even governments, can utilize these clean water technologies, implementing them into their own communities and sustainability programs. Big businesses focused on building sustainable practices can harness the power of recyclables and reuse materials to help preserve energy and waste costs and build better operations for their services.
The ISS also pushes advancements in areas like communications and medicine and has the potential to tackle things we haven’t yet tried. Throughout human history, the incessant research into war technology pushed innovations forward but at an obvious cost of human life. Space travel fosters global cooperation rather than fighting. Few people need to be convinced that peaceful cooperation is preferable to military confrontation when it comes to improving the human condition.
So far, space has been more about a peaceful sort of collaboration, and business leaders can seek to use this as a model for practices and partnerships that target global cooperation and well-being, especially corporations that offer global services. The question is to always ask how we can help support common goals and ideals rather than constantly competing.
Perhaps the most visible and compelling goal for America and the participants in the Artemis Accords is to put people back on the Moon through a multi-decade plan that demands cooperation and sustainability. Decades of operating spacecraft with people in low Earth orbit has provided a wealth of information on the effects of space on the human body.
But microgravity space stations have their limitations on what they can teach us about inhabiting other worlds. Living on the Moon can lead to a better understanding of what it will take for humanity to eventually live on Mars. In situ resource utilization can allow us to derive fuel and water from asteroids, the Moon or Mars instead of bringing it up into space from Earth.
Businesses, including those in the energy and agriculture sectors, can mirror the practice of creating infrastructure that allows products using more sustainable materials on and off-planet. Further, companies can invest in this practice by incorporating technologies inspired by space like the VIPER, a mobile robot that searches for natural resources in areas that are hard to reach on the Moon.
The ability of smart tech to identify rare and valuable resources could be indispensable for companies in various sectors, including technology companies needing rare-earth elements and pharmaceutical companies looking for new species of plants to use in experiments.
Future Space Exploration Avenues To Invest In
I see many commercial interests looking further into space with an eye on resource mining. The hope is that we can apply centuries of Earthly expertise to space and maybe clean up our home world too. But hunger, poverty and climate change will not just go away because we are traveling to space. I do think it can help us solve these issues, though, since it provides us with the technologies to help make the most out of our resources.
Resource mining inspired by developing SpaceTech not only improves AgTech and mining on Earth, but other sectors like manufacturing and engineering can utilize real estate in space to mine resources or grow crops to supplement hunger faced by millions on Earth.
Protection From Threats
Space exploration may very well save our species one day. We have now proved via the DART mission that we can deflect asteroids away from a collision trajectory with Earth. The more we look for objects that could impact Earth, the more we seem to find. The threats posed by these objects are less of a prediction and more of an eventual guarantee.
Similarly, if humans on Earth are wiped out, having colonies on ISS, Mars or the Moon will still allow our species to survive. Companies worldwide can use space research and investment in data analytics to help spot and mitigate risks. Many of these can be implemented for cybersecurity purposes as SpaceTech gives companies better data on monitoring land use, informing their ESG risks and leveraging their energy efficiency.
In the future, AI advancements, other data sources and satellite innovations have the potential to enhance spaced-based data for companies as these technological areas help increase access to a diverse array of space-based data and services at more affordable prices.
As with any human frontier or challenge, the exploration of space demands the most capable people with the support of larger populations. Around 4,000 people were needed to make the Apollo missions happen. Every expertise from engineering and biology to logistics and programming is required. We are entering a vast frontier—unknown and endless in terms of dangers.
Whether it’s deflecting asteroids or bringing resources back to Earth, I see advancements in space exploration as eventually improving lives on Earth—especially if we apply these new abilities sensibly. Overall, investing in the exploration and utilization of space is investing in Earth.
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