For over 30 years, NASA has been doing the research necessary to develop self-sustaining life support by studying crop growth systems. The ability to grow plants at high volume in space will lead to mass production of space-grown produce that will gradually replace Earth launched food supplies. Ideally, this will provide a cheaper, healthier, and tastier food source for astronauts.
Dr. Doug Plata from The Space Development Network hosted a two part session on Earth independence. This involves the idea of reducing a future space colony's dependence on importing essential goods from Earth for survival. Independence from Earth can only be achieved via in-situ resource utilization, which is the process of converting local resources into required goods. Until this happens, any future space colony will be dependent on shipments from Earth for survival.
Extraterrestrial habitats are required for sustained human exploration of space. The trade-off between mass, size, and safety is a concern for all proposed systems. The goal is to provide a low mass system that is easy to transport, while providing maximum space to astronauts and protection from the harsh environment. In addition to large temperature swings, structures need to survive multiple g’s during transportation, radiation, and micrometeorite impacts.
The space industry is in the midst of a data revolution. The two key trends causing this include data proliferation and commercialization. This is interesting because both scientists and commercial players are participants in this change. The rise of petabyte size data releases and privatization of data will forever change how space observations are made and used.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is a United States government scientific agency which has long been tasked with studying the landscape of the United States, including mapping it’s natural resources. Recently, however, the USGS has signaled intentions of documenting and mapping certain space resources.
Kickstarting the space economy is one of the most important activities within the space resources community. The industry that kickstarts the space economy probably isn’t obvious now, but will be in hindsight. Here are some industries that can make this happen.