Trending: The Space Exploration Issue

In this issue: Space ambitions have grown in tandem with aerospace sector technology opening up and being available to more people. This issue looks at how lowering the barriers to entry has allowed for an influx of new players and opportunities.



When the sky’s no limit

For the right price, you can holiday out of this world, floating in space with a bird’s eye view of Earth. To fund the operation of the International Space Station (ISS), which for two decades housed only astronauts, NASA intends to open up the ISS to tourists by 2020. But the “airfare” alone will be US$60 million per traveller. One night’s stay is estimated to cost US$35,000, covering life support, toilet facilities and food. Russia, meanwhile, is building a luxury hotel in space. A minimum stay of one to two weeks at Russia’s space hotel will cost US$40 million, and for US$20 million more, an ultra-rich person can enjoy a month’s stay and an astronaut-guided spacewalk. Prices are steep but are predicted to fall as supply increases. US-based startup Orion Span, for example, has plans for a luxury space hotel that will offer space training, lift-off and a 12-day stay for a “more affordable” US$9.5 million per person.


Space exploration around the world

How different countries are making a mark among the stars.



The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has devised nanosatellites that cost significantly less to build and launch. In January 2019, NTU’s Satellite Research Centre launched its ninth nanosatellite, built with Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology, from a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency rocket. Singapore’s aerospace ecosystem is also thriving with more than 130 players, with some exploring the use of satellite-based blockchain technology for backing up financial transaction records, and to provide remote and autonomous surgery in space.



India has positioned itself as the launchpad for the world’s commercial satellites and plans to have an independent space station by 2030. It is one of the few countries that have sent an unmanned spacecraft to Mars, and in 2014, became the first Asian nation to reach Mars with the orbit of its Mangalyaan probe. India also has its sights on human space flights and will be doing tests with humanoid robots.



SpaceIL's Beresheet moon lander is the closest a private entity has ever got to landing on the moon, with the entire Israeli space industry rallying to make the launch possible. The Israel Space Agency stepped in to provide technical support, the Israel Aerospace Industries company built the spacecraft, and the bulk of its $100 million budget was collected through donations from private companies.



Forget fireworks. Japan's aerospace startup ALE is taking it up a notch with artificial meteor showers launched from space. A micro-satellite in orbit will release metal balls, the size of a blueberry, to streak the upper atmosphere with colours. The estimated cost: around US$9,000 per particle. More importantly, the display may help physicists understand the effects and behaviour of space junk entering the Earth's atmosphere.



Indonesia entered the space race with the successful launch of a satellite from India in 2007 and the launch of its space policy, the National Space Law, in 2013. Indonesia's space agency, LAPAN, also announced its intention to launch a rocket from local grounds by 2040. It is now looking into potential launch sites at Biak Island in Papau and Morotai Island in North Maluku. 


A tip to remember which is which: Say YES to astroNOmy, the study of celestial objects in space – and be wary of astrology, the study of how the stars, sun, moon and more at a person's time of birth may influence luck, love and personality.



Puffy head bird legs

Astronaut lingo for the sensation caused when the lack of gravity in space causes body fluids to move away from the legs to the upper body. 



Independent startups and entrepreneurs with projects in the aerospace sector.


    Nov 7, 2019
    Fiona Liaw
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