The founder of Tesla & SpaceX, Elon Musk loves Twitter. His bio lines are interesting to read. The richest person in the world once tweeted that he wants to make humans a multi-planetary species and currently his bio reads perfumes salesman! The legal battle rages between Twitter and Musk in relation to Musk’s offer to buy twitter while SpaceX, one of the leading private space entities, looks busy onboarding world’s first Space Tourist.
Another billionaire Jeff Bezos went on a trip to space on own rocket while his Amazon is planning to launch more than 300 satellites, called Project Kuiper, capable of ensuring quality data & internet services to every nook and corner of the world (recently in news because of its plan to switch rocket to launch satellites).
Hitherto the race to dominate the space was limited to governments, not the case anymore as more private players join in and the global space economy is expected to grow by leaps and bounds.
Why is it Important to Explore and Develop Space ?
Traditionally the intention behind space exploration was to showcase scientific prowess of nations. The first ever space race happened in 1960s between USA & former USSR. The competition was about who reaches the Moon first! Time flies & the use cases of space today is much more than just chest thumping for knowing how to reach the outer space.
Basically space can be used in two ways, one is for Civilians which is supposed to be peaceful, another application of space is for Defense purposes. Civilian use cases include Telecom Services powered by satellites, TV, GPS and so on. Defense satellites provide restricted information to governments that can help them in spying or monitoring an enemy, for example.
The exploration and mining of minerals can prove economically beneficial. United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently joined a community of select few Space Powers, including India. Finding a valuable mineral can change the destiny of UAE which is full deserts and is heavily depending on oil and tourism. The resources if found, can help in diversifying its economy in future!
The Challenges with Space Exploration
The Outer Space Treaty of United Nations bars nations from claiming sovereignty over outer space. Still the chances of space fights can not be ruled out completely, specially when governments compete for a potential space position. The case in point is China’s unreasonable claims of aerospace over Eastern China Sea.
Space Waste called Space Debris is another concern. There are thousands of sattellites out of service but still orbiting earth. They cause problems if they collide with functioning satellites, affecting satellite services & creating more space waste at the same time. The concern is that only a few space powers are into building space systems to eliminate space debris, led by Japan.
Weaponization of space is the process of extending the military capabilities into space including weapons of mass destruction like nuclear stockpiles. Recently USA established a dedicated Space Force & few other countries are building Anti-Satellite Systems that can take down satellites of enemy nations in times of crisis or war. The Space Treaty of UN is not that comprehensive to deal with all these emerging issues & needs a thorough recheck.
The global space economy is estimated to be worth half a trillion dollars in 2022. The jobs & business opportunities that it presents are immense and are still emerging. The competition out there is not the problem but the nature of the competition is. The need of the hour is to ensure that this competition is healthier & sustainable.
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