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Space conquest as an example to create the world of tomorrow

20
oct
2018
Nicolas DIACONO
Technological Trends Senior Analyst
3 minutes
Space conquest divides as much as it makes one dream. Many critics wonder why spend so much money to go to the stars when there are so many problems to solve on Earth.

The question is very legitimate, as we quickly forget what the conquest of space has brought to our daily lives. Weather forecasts, time stamping of banking transactions, GPS, tires, medical imaging, infant food, household vacuum cleaners, our stoves … and many other activities or products of our daily lives are related to space activity.

What if space conquest was the solution to the climatic, societal and economic challenges that we will have to face in the coming décades?

Satellite astronaute

To what extend can space conquest contribute to the creation of the world of tomorrow?

A model of life and consumption to be duplicated on Earth

Life in space is complex and with limited resources. In this sense, the life support of a space mission to optimize resources through models of circular use and recycling can optimize life on Earth in the face of climate and pollution issues. The conquest of space, with its reusable rockets, becomes more ecological while being economically profitable. Life on Earth should, therefore, be very much inspired by the rather minimalist lifestyles of astronauts on missions and the circular economy put in place.

Space can also change the game of food production in the long term through bio-printers. In October 2019, bovine muscle cells were produced on the International Space Station, with the zero G ecosystem facilitating the production of organic tissue. We would then have “Made in Space” steaks, which would reduce the need for farmland.

Space farmers may not be that far away…

A new industrial generation

For Jeff Bezos, the future of heavy industrial production seems to be going through space and a zero-G environment: “The Earth is not a very good place for heavy industry,” says the billionaire. It suits us at the moment, but in the near future, I mean decades, maybe 100 years, it will start to be easier to do things that we are doing now on Earth but in space, because we will have a lot of energy.”

One of the first industrial productions to be impacted would be the manufacture of fiber optic cables that are difficult to manipulate on Earth because of gravity. Their production in space without gravitational constraints could reduce production times and reduce production losses. Also in the industrial field, the asteroid mining would also allow companies to free themselves from geopolitical issues to access metals and rare lands. It would also be a way to limit the degradation of some wild ecosystems. Google, through its founders, has invested in projects of this type since the early 2010s. We can then imagine new industrial models for the next 30 years.

A digital world thanks to space

Accelerating our digital lives will require more and more connectivity resources, computing power and data centers. With the rise of 5G internet network via nanosatellites like those of Starlink, Kuiper Systems (Amazon) or Oneweb space can become the official provider of the networks needed to deploy stores, warehouses or autonomous cars.

Kuiper belt

In-orbit data centers would no longer need to use non-renewable electricity to cool down and solar panels would allow them to operate. Given the drop in costs for putting satellites into orbit, some experts predict that this will be economically feasible in less than 30 years.

A growing startup ecosystem

However, space activity must be controlled, reasoned and regulated so as not to generate even more orbital waste as is the case with the rise of nanosatellites such as those of Amazon or SpaceX. This issue will become a real economic, scientific and potentially health issue within a decade. The acceleration on the aerospace economy has been felt for 2 years at trade shows like CES, Web Summit or SXSW with more and more startups positioning themselves in this market.

Stéphane Israel, Arianespace’s CEO, best sums up the importance of space: “Space meets the three challenges of the century: security, connectivity, climate. It provides them with answers that are impossible to implement from Earth. Whether it’s organizing the movement of connected cars, monitoring the variables of climate change or guiding a delivery driver at home, “The New Space” will be one of the key keys to our future.

More than ever our future will be read in the stars, the impossible is often the most likely!

Nicolas DIACONO
Technological Trends Senior Analyst
As an expert in emerging technologies, Nicolas travels to innovation shows around the world to spot and analyse the new trends.
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