Space exploration is experiencing a renaissance – with the ascendancy of SpaceX and many of the less prominent but no less motivated independent space companies, ongoing nanosatellite boom, rising ambitions of Chinese Space Agency and the fact that more rockets launched in 2018 than ever before since 1991 the new Space Age is clearly upon us.
We all have rejoiced watching the successes of the participants – be it the first launch of Falcon Heavy, test flights of new manned spacecraft from SpaceX and Boeing, new Chinese and Indian interplanetary missions as well as many successful NASA and ESA missions. The privileged few of us have been not just watching, but actively participating in the space exploration research and engineering activities – students, scientists, aerospace industry professionals or civil servants in national space agencies.
However, the vast majority of people excited about new space adventures have only limited options in doing something space-related. Amateur radio enthusiasts can listen for satellite telemetry and people with data science and programming skills can work with data from satellite instruments. But it takes many years of dedicated training and experience to become an astronaut or aerospace engineer even for most talented people. Similarly, entrepreneurship in space industry requires exceptional level of determination and access to significant capital funds – neither Elon Musk, nor Jeff Bezos didn’t start their companies using just “lunch money”. People in disadvantaged communities and living in countries that lack national space agency or strong aerospace industry are very limited in their ability to contribute to the global space exploration efforts.
So there is clearly a problem to solve – remove or reduce the entry barriers of modern space industry for people wanting to become part of it, but currently lacking opportunities to do so.