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Technology transfer and the “local” space market

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The recent launches of suborbital space tourism carrying Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos as passengers on their respective space vehicles, as well as the continued success of Elon Musk, have sparked a worldwide commentary on the ‘billionaire space race’, but spatial innovation also operates at a local level. In this article, the authors consider the importance of the interaction between space technologies and applications and their terrestrial counterparts.

The efforts of companies such as Blue Origin, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic symbolize the increasing growth of the commercial space sector, a segment of the industry that is opening up its previously inaccessible market to entrepreneurs and innovators around the world. Non-traditional players are contributing to a rapidly growing industry that encompasses everything from suborbital space tourism to commercial space stations and even moon landers. Key to this is the growing number of small space nation companies emerging in the manufacturing, launching and service delivery of small satellites.

To meet the demand for this rapidly expanding space business, whether it’s powering robotic miners on the Moon or monitoring Scottish Highland peatlands, the industry needs to innovate, translate and implement a wide range of technologies, many of which are currently under development. developed for other purposes. Many of the technical challenges facing space operations have terrestrial equivalents, or at least have enough in common that a solution may already exist or be a small step away from direct application.


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