I am not talking about the kind of space you rent for an office or a store. I’m talking about outer space, where we will one day travel through to visit planets and distant stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
Being a space-centric business, I’ve come to learn something about the commercial space industry. It moves REAL SLOW. Just like a rocket lifting off the launch pad, this industry seems to be going no where fast. In a recent article, Burt Rutan was quoted, public asking the rhetorical question, “What the hell happened?”
I respect Burt’s observation and now understand exactly what and why he is asking. As a nation united, we were able to put men on the moon. Now we can’t even make it back to orbit with some reusable space planes? We take entirely too many baby steps when it comes to space. Or do we?
When traveling to space, everything, I mean literally, everything has to work almost flawlessly. Considering that many electronic components are not really made for space, but are at best customized components that survived many hours of brutal testing while the rest failed at some point or became unreliable in their functionality during testing. We take for granted that we still know very little about how to survive the brutal environment of space.
Let’s face it, we go to the grocery store more often than we got to outer space. And it is this lack of frequency that has slowed down the progress. Despite the technological advances, spacecraft still fail on a regular basis, no matter how many thousands of hours that go into building them. But we are getting better at it. With so many cubesats visitng the lower atmosphere, the lessons learned are increasing on an annual basis. As the old saying goes, you must first crawl before you can walk. I think we just entered the walking phase. So hold on to your hats folks, the races are about to begin because we’re about to go from walking to running! Commercial Space, here we come!