As Carl Sagan put it, “we are the way for universe to know itself.” The current state of space technology gives us a broad view on the universe and leads us on our ultimate path – to know ourselves.
Government, businesses, and non-profit organizations all around the world are developing new ways to collaborate to making space a part of our daily lives. The need for space research and exploration is recognised on international and governmental levels. As of 2018, 72 different governments operate through their own space agencies, with many countries starting their own (Australia) or expanded national satellite programs (Nigeria, Kenya). Many countries in Africa and Latin America are pursuing satellite programs as part of their national agenda.
The private sector is keeping pace with governments, if not outperforms in its ambitions and thrives. The amount of private companies working in the field of spacetech is growing every year, enabling more and more players to build a satellite and launch it into outer space. What used to cost millions of dollars (up to $1 billion) only 10 years ago, now goes down to tens of thousands of dollars. It is also exciting to see private space companies going beyond building new rockets and spacecrafts, designing space travel experiences and exploring new approaches to space business models.
The benefits of space technology should be for everybody. That is why it’s so important to focus on active collaboration between various actors in space, both private and public. We already see delas happening between governments and companies in relation to space research and space exploration. Private companies are taking over activities such as Earth observation, remote sensing or flying cargo to lower orbit. As these operations become more routine, the entire ecosystem starts to grow and transcend to other industries.
Let’s take Earth observation as an example. Today, satellite-based earth observation applications are used in various industries on Earth, from forestry and maritime to smart cities and human infrastructure. Satellites give us data on weather and environmental changes, composition of gases in the atmosphere, temperature impacts of urban areas, water pollution, impact of human activity in cities – the list can go on. Satellite companies produce high-resolution images with enough detail to distinguish features in a given area. That data can be then used as an action point for public sector to make better decisions and improve on policy and infrastructure.
Space is a great tool for us to understand more about us. It invites people from all backgrounds to contribute to dialog about how we as a humanity should perceive what’s beyond our planet. That’s why space is a great place to be for entrepreneurs – future shapers – those who are excited about tackling very hard problems, and thus making the world a better place.