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What are the benefits of billionaires going to space? How could the private space industry affect other industries?
The private space industry has the potential to bring notable benefits to those of us left on the ground. As billionaires, like Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, launch into space on privately-funded rockets, their space travel inventions could trickle down into your everyday life.
Keep reading to learn why billionaires going to space can actually benefit you.
Billionaires Going to Space Creates Product Innovations
Disruptive, innovative technologies often start as rich people’s playthings—think cars, cell phones, and even basic telephones. Inevitably, such technologies evolve to not only be more accessible to wider swaths of the population, but also to create unexpected benefits. Those close to the industry expect the same trajectory this time.
Some possible benefits of billionaires going to space might include:
Existing space programs have produced marvels from GPS to water purifiers to the robotic arms that perform brain surgery. As billionaires go to space, the current space race promises even more: The network of satellites with which it will blanket the planet will be able to monitor climate change, bring computing power to all corners of the globe, and maybe even generate solar power in orbit that can be beamed back to Earth. It will be able to measure crop health, rainforest loss, and factory emissions, and possibly mine minerals from asteroids.
Faster Global Travel
Though the ability to travel from New York to Hong Kong in one hour may appeal to a select few, there could be other, more practical, reasons for transporting people or goods quickly around the globe. Organs, for example, shuttled by rockets could save lives they otherwise wouldn’t, as could emergency personnel.
Billionaires going to space have, so far, focused on getting to space, but soon enough they will pivot to staying in space (Elon Musk, for one, aims to colonize Mars). Living away from Earth for long periods of time will require astronauts to create food outside of Earth’s orbit—in NASA’s words, “make it there, not take it there.”
Thus, researchers are actively investigating how microbes might ferment edible substances from resources that would be local to another planet or to a space shuttle en route (some companies are even experimenting with coaxing food out of the gases in air). Such innovations may in turn help address food shortages here on Earth.
Researchers are also studying how fungi and bacteria might be programmed to produce bioplastics which could be used by astronauts to manufacture needed items while away—3D printers could make anything from medical devices to shelter to tools. Some even talk of the potential for printing human organs. Again, this technology has the potential to transform manufacturing and medicine back on this planet.
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