Technology

“We go to space to benefit life on Earth,” says former astronaut and top NASA official.

There are great benefits here on Earth as a result of space exploration activities and continued human presence in low Earth orbit, says former NASA astronaut Colonel Pam Melroy, who is currently NASA’s deputy administrator. “Climate change is an existential crisis, the best place to monitor Earth is from space… But spend your effort, see a straight line of sight.” Top US officials were holding discussions with the heads of space agencies from the Quad countries (Japan, Australia, India, the US) organized by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute as part of the Sydney Dialogue.

“Traditionally government agencies carried out space activities, but activity in low Earth orbit (LEO) has increased in the last decade. Meanwhile, ordinary people and astronauts are going into space. Increasing access to space has helped to increase the number of people who are in space.” New services can be created on Earth and life can be improved here” agrees Dr. Hiroshi Yamakawa, President, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). On the need for greater cooperation between the Quad countries, he said that future lunar exploration would have to be a joint effort, as there exists the possibility of having a manned space station around the Moon, which could enable continued exploration in the region. And also on the lunar surface. The head of the Japanese space agency stressed the need for multi-national missions to Mars, which would be led by the Quad countries, due to the high cost of manned missions.

Despite being a recent entrant, the Australian Space Agency hopes to build on its long legacy of deep space communications, remote operations and space medicine, life science demonstrations and facilities to further its space travel ambitions. It is noteworthy that, unlike the other three Quad countries, Australia does not yet have a standalone, independent space-travel program and works to undertake missions jointly with other agencies and countries. However, the Australian Space Agency wants to grow bigger and faster. “We want to nurture and promote the industry by investing in research and development, through grants, special programs, working with other space agencies and building confidence about being a market,” says Enrico Palermo, head of the Australian Space Agency.

Asked about Australia’s own manned spaceflight program, Palermo expressed optimism and said that given the easy access to space and the rapid miniaturization of technological, aerospace components, they will eventually have a shot. Elaborating on Australia’s geographical advantages, open range, experience in space medicine and life sciences, deep space communication network, he said, Australia will end up in the status of an astronaut programme. He also mentioned Australia’s communication and tracking support for India’s Gaganyaan manned space flight program and NASA’s Artemis, the manned lunar exploration program.

“NASA is the engine to drive commercial development and space exploration is the fuel for this engine…Pushing yourself to do something super challenging is the fuel..” says the former NASA astronaut. According to him, NASA will be a facilitator that will nurture funding, strike partnerships, open doors and private players to advance in deep space exploration.

“The continued presence in Low Earth orbit has helped us understand and develop more efficient combustion engines, key processes in the human body, insights for drug development, and more.” That said, about some of the successes from the presence of astronauts in the International Space Station laboratories.

On NASA’s future plans, Melroy said, we intend to assign LEO (500-200 km orbit) to commercial partners, so that we can invest more in expanding into the Solar System. “If we continue to do everything on our own, it will be very difficult to find the resources for this,” he said on the importance of private companies doing critical space travel and support missions.

It is important to note that the Indian government announced reforms in the country’s space sector in 2020 to allow private players to undertake end-to-end spacefaring activities including designing, owning, manufacturing rockets, satellites, launching rockets and spacecraft. be able to fulfill. Providing support and on-ground services etc. The Indian space sector has been dominated by the state-run ISRO since the beginning of India’s space programme, while private companies were only vendors and suppliers of components and services. However, the latest reforms in India are aimed at opening up this lucrative industry which is estimated to be worth $440bn USD worldwide.

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