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Is it time for a new moonshot? The potential of a cosmos economy


Sep 15, 2023

India recently joined the select group of countries that have successfully landed on the moon, bringing back childhood memories of the space race in the 1970s. Growing up, many of us were captivated by stories of space exploration, whether it was the Apollo missions, the Jetsons cartoon, or the epic Star Wars movies. Perhaps now is the time for another major push into space, a carefully orchestrated American “moonshot”, to tap into the endless possibilities it offers. While some may question the need to explore space, it goes beyond mere curiosity. Space holds real-world solutions, particularly when it comes to addressing the challenges of climate change.

In the past, space exploration was seen as the domain of only two superpowers, the United States and the former Soviet Union. However, today, numerous countries and private companies are actively seeking to harness the economic potential of space. In his book, “Extended Education in the Earth Age”, Jack Gregg, former executive director of the California Space Agency, refers to this as the “cosmos economy”. The space economy is already estimated to be worth $546 billion in 2023, with projections suggesting that it could reach $3 trillion by 2040. While current activities in low-earth orbit (LEO), such as communications satellites, already contribute to this economy, the real growth lies in ventures beyond LEO. Space settlements, infrastructure development, industrialization, trade, and energy production are just some of the potential areas for economic expansion. As the industry matures, the demand for qualified personnel will skyrocket, creating new and unimaginable industries. Unlike in the past, space missions are no longer limited to government agencies, as private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin play a leading role, making space ventures more financially viable. With the cost of launches significantly reduced, there is a potential for trillions of dollars to be invested in space exploration on Wall Street.

While the future of the space industry may not resemble the sci-fi works of the past, it holds tremendous potential for practical applications that will impact our daily lives. For example, the deployment of satellites to improve broadband connectivity will reduce the cost of wireless data and enable AI-powered applications like self-driving cars and weather forecasting. Space also offers vast resources that could spark a new era of mineral mining and resource diversification. The potential game-changing impact of space mining, especially for rare earth metals used in high-tech gadgets and electric vehicles, cannot be underestimated. Additionally, space may hold the key to addressing climate change issues. A solar station in space capturing the sun’s energy 24/7 and transmitting it wirelessly to Earth could provide unlimited clean energy and help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Of course, venturing into space is not without its challenges. Space debris and the potential for orbital collisions pose significant threats to human safety, and there is also the concern of the militarization of space. To navigate these challenges, a collaborative approach involving governments, businesses, and global citizens is essential.

Over the past 50 years, we have seen remarkable technological advancements in fields like computing and information technology. However, the dreams of flying cars and space travel that captivated us as children have yet to be fully realized. As venture capitalist Peter Thiel puts it, we got Twitter and Call of Duty instead. It is time to think big again. Embarking on another figurative and literal “moonshot” could revitalize not only a divided nation but also bring economic opportunities, job creation, investment, and potentially even help save the planet. It’s an optimistic and positive vision that has been embraced by some 2024 US presidential candidates. Maybe, just maybe, the wonders of our childhood dreams are within reach.

By Editor

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