Space is a resource to be exploited for the benefit of all and undoubtedly holds many of the keys to humanity’s future. But though it might appear boundless and infinite it will not ultimately be to our advantage if we do not manage it in a sustainable way.
One of the most significant issues is the accumulation of space debris and, in this context, the first months of 2021 witnessed an unprecedented number of rocket launches. SpaceX alone notched up some 20 Falcon 9 launches between January and the end of May, a notable achievement in itself.
What is less clear, given the majority of these launches carried payloads of multiple smallsats to feed the company’s planned 12,000-strong Starlink constellation, is how much they are exacerbating the growing and still largely unaddressed debris problem.
There are still many unknowns relating to the proliferation of objects in Earth orbit, a fact that was highlighted by presentations at the annual European Space Debris Conference held virtually at the end of April.
One paper identified a potential link between space junk and climate change - increasing levels of carbon dioxide could be lowering the density of the upper atmosphere, which may diminish the natural process whereby low Earth orbiting debris is naturally pulled downwards before it incinerates in the thicker, lower atmosphere.
Scientists studying this unexpected link between climate change and space debris propagation speculate that, in a worst case scenario, it could lead to increased orbital lifetimes of up to 40 years. This could boost the amount of space debris as much as 50 times by the end of the century.
Protecting Earth’s orbital environment and the expanding sphere of our new domain has never been more relevant
Such findings may heap further difficulties on the already complex problems faced by regulators wrestling with satellite operators amidst the headlong rush to deploy megaconstellations by the likes of SpaceX, Amazon and OneWeb in the west, as well as the Russian Sfera and Chinese Hongyan systems.
So how do we make space and our activities in it sustainable? Up to now the rules and regulations governing this are relatively weak, as has been highlighted regularly by respected authors in the pages of ROOM.
To be effective, space law regulations - backed by monitoring and a means of enforcement - must prevent as many potentially dangerous situations as possible from occurring. Legislation also needs to lay out a framework for responsibility and liability for when things go wrong.
Space law has largely worked so far because any issues have been few and far between and, on the whole, have been dealt with diplomatically.
As global populations grapple with the daily effects of climate change and pollution, the lessons of how we have mismanaged the environment and its resources are plain to see. The same is true for space, even if the outcomes of our inactions today may only become apparent in the future.
While space sustainability has been a topic of discussion among academics and technologists for decades, the importance of protecting Earth’s orbital environment and the expanding sphere of our new domain has never been more relevant.
In the absence of robust, internationally agreed and long-term sustainability laws and guidelines, it is doubtful that commercial space companies, and some state players, can be relied on to police themselves in the space realm.
The questions surrounding space debris and the threat it poses become more urgent with every launch and, at present, the solutions on any level are far from certain. Now is the time to make sustainability a priority.
Editor-in-Chief, ROOM – The Space Journal
Just when you think you’ve seen it all before, it seems that modern space technology and exploration never fails to amaze or deliver. Nowhere was this more evident recently than with the choreographed arrival at Mars of three spacecraft - from China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States.
Arriving at the red planet for the first time is no mean feat and our hearty congratulations go to China’s Tianwen-1 and the UAE’s Hope spacecraft for these historic achievements in February.
But even die hard space fans were hardly prepared for what followed a few days later with NASA’s Perseverance and its breathtaking descent to a perfect touchdown on the Martian surface - all recorded on camera and played back countless times on television and social media around the world.
This was space at its most spectacular and inspirational for upcoming generations and, as each of the missions unfolds in the coming months, everyone will be watching and waiting with bated breath for more scientific data, drama and discoveries from our enigmatic planetary neighbour.
One of ROOM’s goals is to reflect the full breadth and dynamic nature of space exploration, business and technology, and this issue is no exception with articles from leading global experts all seeking to challenge, inform, question and feed the imagination.
In ‘Dream big and reach the stars’ (p. 106), space populariser Abigail Harrison (also known as ‘Astronaut Abby’) writes about the importance of ‘selling space’ and the dream of Mars to upcoming generations.
Even die hard space fans were hardly prepared for what followed a few days later with NASA’s Perseverance
According to Stephen Ashworth, of Oxford University’s Voltaire Foundation, living on Mars may prove much more challenging than it seems and his article ‘On Mars as it is on Earth - preparing for settlement’ (p. 86) proposes that completely self-sufficient settlements on Earth need to be developed first.
The sustainablity of future long-term Mars missions is also the theme of ‘In-situ propellant design for Mars ascent vehicles’ (p. 74) by young Turkish engineers Ozan Kara and Miray Karpat, who are working to develop rocket motors and propulsion systems that could be powered by resources available on Mars.
Bringing space closer to home are articles examining different aspects of Earth observation (EO) technology. In ‘Data may be the new oil… but its real value is in actionable information’ (p. 38), Geoff Smith suggests that the voluminous amounts of data now being gathered need to be channelled correctly and, increasingly, in real-time.
Aravind Ravichandran agrees that data from space can enable a revolution of applications to help us build a sustainable future but in ‘iPhone moment for the EO industry’ (p. 55) he asks the obvious question, how do we capitalise on it?
Challenging topics, such as ‘Space wars - how they start and how to end them’ (p. 60) by strategist Paul Szymanski; and Amanda Miller’s ‘Building SLS - a contractual odyssey’ (p. 8) taking a critical overview of NASA’s much-vaunted Space Launch System, also feature.
ROOM’s regular ‘Industry Focus’ section includes an exclusive interview (p. 13) with ESA’s new Director General, Josef Aschbacher, who expands on his challenge to make space part of the everyday European agenda; Seraphim Capital’s Josephine Millward discusses ‘Space industry trends in the pandemic’ (p. 18); and Shivaprakash Muruganandham, a senior analyst from India, provides expert commentary on new revenue opportunities for the satellite industry in ‘Satellites in the cloud: data from orbit’ (p. 22).
Today, space can be very personal too and this is particularly so for Jacob Mulder, a Dutch IT specialist, who explains in ‘Visions of beating gravity’ (p. 103) about his life-changing vision to rise above a physical disability by one day residing in space himself.
Editor-in-Chief, ROOM – The Space Journal
The International Space Station (ISS), one of the most remarkable achievements in human history and an enduring symbol of political and technological international cooperation, celebrated 20 years of continuous human occupation in 2020.
It has been humanity’s foothold in Earth orbit and a stepping stone to the future since 2 November 2000 when the joint US-Russian Expedition 1 crew docked for a 136-day mission.
But is 20 years enough to say the human race has finally arrived in space on a permanent basis? Certainly not if reports are true that key parts of the Space Station are in danger of wearing out.
In December the Russian manufacturer RSC Energia, the prime developer and contractor of the Russian crewed spaceflight programme, suggested that a number of Space Station elements are on the verge of catastrophic failure.
Over 20 years of continuous human habitation of low Earth orbit our approach to space has shifted significantly. The second decade of ISS operations has born witness to an increasingly commercial space environment, encapsulated in 2020 by the arrival of the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock and two crews aboard SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The commercial sector is now a key player in delivery systems, with the likes of SpaceX introducing significant elements of reusability and turning rocket launches into an almost routine exercise.
Apart from the valuable scientific research carried out on the ISS, it seems that commercialism has no financial bounds or lack of ambition after NASA revealed last May it would transport the actor Tom Cruise to the ISS on a SpaceX Dragon in autumn 2021. And, in November, a Russian TV channel and film production company joined forces to announce they would fly a yet-to-be-selected actress to the ISS around the same time.
The long-term, permanent habitation of space should not be limited to the political whims and strategy of competing superpowers
Two decades have seen many changes in international politics too. After four headline-grabbing Trumpian years the US looks set to revert to something that promises to deliver more realistic long-term strategies. And if, as expected, NASA gets a new Administrator, the goal of returning Americans to the lunar surface by 2024 may also be re-evaluated.
It could mean the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Artemis programmes are slowed or even trimmed back, opening the door for some of the ambitious commercial operators like SpaceX and Blue Origin to take on more sooner than anticipated.
Another project waiting in the wings is for a new state-of-the-art and commercially procured docking module to be added to the ISS, potentially helping to extend the orbiting outpost’s life to 2030 and then being available afterwards as the core of a new autonomous space station.
The project was first mooted to industry delegates at the Asgardia Space Science & Investment Congress (ASIC) held in Germany in 2019 but the initiative - led by Asgardia and including Nanoracks-Europe, Thales Alenia Space (Italy), OHB (Germany) and QinetiQ (Belgium) - has so far been turned down by ESA after being formally submitted in mid-2020.
Part of what these times teach us is that the long-term, permanent habitation of space should not be limited to the changing political whims and strategies of competing superpowers. To succeed it needs to be part of a bigger, bolder and more global vision.
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On a personal note, after five years as Managing Editor of ROOM, I am delighted to take on the position of Editor-in-Chief. I am honoured by the decision of the magazine’s founder Dr Igor Ashurbeyli to entrust me with this role - my sincere thanks to him and to all those who continue to support this great publishing endeavour.
Managing Editor, ROOM – The Space Journal
The global Covid-19 pandemic has thrown up a number of questions about how authorities and governments function and work together effectively on Earth, especially in times of crisis.
Now translate these deficiencies into the realm of space exploration and it’s easy to see that without internationally agreed rules and regulations the clear waters that beckon suddenly become very muddy. Whichever way you look at it, and especially as we prepare to move towards the Moon, asteroids and eventually Mars, humans need rules to live and abide by. Early mistakes in this regard may prove costly.
ROOM doesn’t hold back in this respect. As a magazine for the global space community, written by the global space community, our philosophy is to provide informed debate and comment right across the spectrum. We are therefore pleased to highlight the knotty and often ambivalent subject of rights and regulations in space, whether applied to individuals, a business, a country or humanity in general.
Several articles in this issue attempt to address the questions of regulation and rights. Allowing space to become a lawless free-for-all should not be an option for the final frontier.
In ‘Extending human rights across the final frontier’ (page 94), Australian lawyer Jonathan Lim suggests that extension of international human rights into the domain of outer space represents “a necessary and foundational measure”.
Meanwhile, US entrepreneur Rick Tumlinson proposes that we need a ‘declaration of rights and responsibilities of humanity in the universe’. In ‘Morality, rights and responsibilities in space’ (page 100) he says it is time to consider a new approach to human action and interaction in space.
Without internationally agreed rules and regulations the clear waters that beckon suddenly become very muddy
NASA’s Artemis Accords is one example of the kind of agreement now being put in place. But Sanat Kaul, a member of the Board of International Association for Advancement of Space Safety, asks (page 88) if it is even ‘Moon-proof’, particularly when it comes to extracting and utilising resources? Going to the Moon without formal intergovernmental or international agreements could be a recipe for disaster.
Such rules and regulations for space exploration may not thrill the heart when pitched against the drama of rocket launches, the excitement of landing on another planet and future space colonisation.But they are ignored at our peril and, if the global Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we have to start thinking about all aspects of life very differently, and start planning well ahead.
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One of the many consequences of pandemic travel restrictions has been the cancellation of major space conferences. The already re-arranged 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, USA, is now postponed to August 2021 and the International Astronautical Federation’s (IAF) prestigious annual gathering is re-scheduled for Dubai, September 2021. As an alternative, the IAF is taking the bold step of holding its congress fully online and available free to all-comers this year (see opposite). A positive gesture to the global space community, sending a clear message that space remains open for business.
ROOM also looks forward to ‘meeting’ its readers online and through social media. Authoritative news on our website is attracting ever bigger audiences and complements the in-depth articles and analysis in our quarterly magazines, available both digitally and in print to subscribers.
Thank you to all those who continue to support us. And, if you don’t already, please do consider a subscription - it is a valuable way to be part of our on-going work.
Managing Editor, ROOM – The Space Journal
Кockets have been launched from the United States, Russia, Japan and China (and even Iran), and satellites continue to communicate and inform, not least to facilitate a new generation of video conferencing platforms that have supplanted conferences and face-to-face meetings.
But over the past several months even the worldwide space business has not been immune from the global coronavirus pandemic. Factory and business closures, both temporary and permanent, allied with growing investor nervousness, have all taken their toll, just as with every other type of industry.
In the midst of an unprecedented global virus pandemic, the implications of COVID-19 have found a voice in several articles in this issue of ROOM, including ‘COVID-19 infects global space community’ by Josephine Millward and ‘Pandemic in space - are we ready?’ by David Kuan-Wei Chen.
Whilst there is no silver bullet for any industry, there are useful and universal guidelines to adhere to in such challenging circumstances - not panicking or making knee-jerk decisions topping any list.
The truth is, in an all-out global crisis, breathing space and time to re-evaluate are important. It always pays to be prepared and remain cool.
The virus pandemic has also amplified many truths about global disasters. In particular, it has shown that we cannot afford to ignore warnings, and that pragmatic emergency response capabilities need to be planned so swift and effective actions can be implemented.
Whatever the final ramifications of COVID-19, of one thing we can be certain - there are other global disasters waiting in the wings. Take, for example, the warnings in Joe Pelton’s article ‘Saving Earth - time for a new perspective’.
Can humans survive the challenge of climate change and continued population growth? Can society survive a massive asteroid strike? And can
The open sharing of knowledge and working together in harmony may be the only true path to humanity’s ultimate survival
the modern world cope with the threat of a massive solar storm that knocks out satellites, the global Internet, digital communications networks and so on?
Each is potentially many times more devastating than the COVID-19 virus and Pelton sees the answers bound up not only in space technology but also in international cooperation.
It is ironic that, at a time when human knowledge and technology have risen to their highest level, we are as a global population at our most vulnerable.
COVID-19 has given us all a different perspective and in one sense has been a great leveller. Now it is essential that we go forward in harmony, and the motto of the first space nation Asgardia - ‘One Humanity, One Unity’ - becomes ever more pertinent.
Author Douglas Adams, who wrote The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, offers an interesting viewpoint: “The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.”
The challenge, as we continue to cope with the fallout from COVID-19, is not only to embrace a new kind of ‘normal’ but also to kick-start the future of global space cooperation and understand the need to protect and defend our planet.
Right now, international organisations - and even a new 21st century nation such as Asgardia - have a unique opportunity to pioneer global cooperation and fresh ways of moving things forward.
Faced with the need for common defences against cosmic threats and space debris, as well as challenges such as climate change and global development inequality, the open sharing of knowledge and working together in harmony may be the only true path to humanity’s ultimate survival.
Managing Editor, ROOM – The Space Journal
Until relatively recently in human history the night sky remained one of the last unspoilt vestiges of our natural world. From the time of Galileo to the present day, astronomical observations from Earth’s surface have led to exceptional progress in the scientific understanding of the world around us.
Now, just as we enter the third decade of the 21st Century and a dynamic new phase in space exploration and exploitation begins, some of the current capability of astronomical instrumentation from the ground is potentially being endangered by the rapid development of micro-satellite fleets in low Earth orbits (LEO).
In the interests of preserving the ability to make meaningful visual and radio ground-based observations, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is sounding a clarion call for greater protection and international safeguards.
The IAU claims that if the deployment of mega constellations remains unchecked the view of the night sky will be increasingly impeded by artificial satellites, not only visible to the naked eye but also crossing and scarring professional and amateur time-lapse observations alike with parallel streaks at all latitudes.
SpaceX has already embarked on its ambitious Starlink project to populate the sky with some 42,000 satellites which, together with planned constellations such as those from OneWeb, Amazon and others, means there could one day be more than 50,000 small satellites encircling the Earth at different low altitudes.
Astronomers argue that such constellations will severely diminish our view of the universe, create more space debris and deprive humanity of an unblemished view of the night sky
These small, mass-produced satellites orbit very close to Earth with the intent to provide speedy internet connections via low-latency signals. But that proximity also makes them more visible and brighter in the night sky. Astronomers argue that such constellations will severely diminish our view of the universe, create more space debris and deprive humanity of an unblemished view of the night sky. If these networks come to fruition, they suggest that every square degree of the sky will eventually have a satellite crawling across it throughout the whole observing night.
As space becomes ever more commercialised the speed of such development is quickly overtaking the existing, globally agreed rules governing space activities. Mega constellations are just one area where new rules of governance are urgently needed. Others include the exploitation of resources on the Moon and elsewhere, preserving peace and resolving disputes, and rules for everyday living in space.
Recognising the urgent need for coordinated action, the space nation Asgardia is organising a second congress in its ‘Paving the Road to Living in Space’ series. Taking place at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, on 16-17 June 2020 (www.alc.space), it will focus on discussing key aspects of space law needed to ensure the success of future space exploits.
Of course, ROOM fully supports the growth and advancement of space technologies and the ensuing benefits they bring to everyday life, business and commerce across the globe.
But it would be ironic indeed if, by exploiting LEO without due responsibility, we neglect to consider the resultant damage to scientific research and a previously unblemished part of our natural environment that deployment of such new technologies could unwittingly deliver.
The urgent question is, do we continue to rush headlong into deploying massive new orbital networks without checks and balances, and with scant regard for the heavens above - or can the global space community approach this kind of thing in a more mature and responsible manner that is fair to everyone?
Managing Editor, ROOM – The Space Journal
If the increase in space debris in Earth orbit remains uncontrolled and unregulated, it will eventually render outer space useless for the whole of humanity - a sober warning from Prof Ram Jakhu in this issue of ROOM.
In ‘Rule of law vital for humanity’s sustainability and survival’ (p14), Prof Jakhu examines the necessary legal frameworks needed to avoid potential doomsday scenarios and proposes that a new international legal order for outer space should also recognise that reckless and intentional creation of space debris is “a crime against humanity”.
Indeed, turn in just about any direction these days and it seems that the world is facing some kind of existential crisis, whether it be diminishing biodiversity, deforestation or the accelerating climate emergency. Space is no exception and so the potential for mayhem from orbital debris adds to the collective call to action urgently needed across several fronts of human activity.
Prof Jakhu’s article is one of six published in this issue based on presentations at the first Asgardia Space Science & Investment Congress (ASIC) held in Darmstadt, Germany, in October.
As its theme ‘Paving the Road to Living in Space’ suggests, ASIC’s goal was to offer a strategic pathway to the future, homing in on the interconnected themes of the extraordinary science and technology required to support permanent space habitats and the first humans born in space.
With around 150 specialist attendees from around the globe it was something of a niche congress headed up by the flamboyant Prof Floris Wuyts, a world-leading human physiology specialist from the University of Antwerp in Belgium. A single plenary session ran across three days which, given the broad range of future-looking presentations, proved a successful format.
The potential for mayhem from orbital debris adds to the collective call to action urgently needed across several fronts of human activity
Our cross-section of Special Reports from ASIC are selected from more than 50 presentations, each of which provided an insight into one of the challenging themes discussed in talks, panel sessions and posters.
A core vision of Asgardia the Space Nation is to achieve the first birth of a child in space and, in doing so, progress towards its long-term strategy of creating off-world human settlements. To further this goal, challenging issues relating to radiation and artificial gravity need to be addressed and ASIC was the first such event created specifically to allow world-leading scientists already working in these areas to come together to present and discuss their research.
Whilst space is both inspirational and motivational, offering immense possibilities for the future, success will depend on the vision and success of entrepreneurs such as Jeff Manber of Nanoracks (‘Commercialising space exploration and development’ - p20) and financial experts such as Seraphim Capital’s Mark Boggett, who provides valuable insights into the space funding landscape in ‘Venture capital investment in space’ (p30).
Advanced technology is another vital part of the mix; Tigran Mkhoyan focuses on the ‘Coriolis effect in rotating space platforms’ (p24) whilst Nissem Abdeljelil, of the National Center for Nuclear Science & Technologies in Tunisia, addresses the potential of using ionising radiation to manage biofilm contamination in ‘Surviving bacteria in space’ (p35).
ASIC discussed everything from creating artificial gravity and combating radiation to a birth in space, as well as considering how to secure the investment and develop the technologies to achieve it all. As such, ‘Paving the Road to Living in Space’ set something of a benchmark for the global space conference scene and, based on its success, the organisers are planning a follow-up congress in 2021.
Managing Editor, ROOM – The Space Journal
Amindset anchored within endeavours of the past and established ways of doing things is one of the most significant obstacles to humanity’s space-faring future.
Five decades after the first Moon landing, most major space agencies and all but a handful of private launch companies remain focused on the on-going development of expendable launchers or, at best, only partly reusable launchers.
Undoubtedly today’s rockets are more efficient than their predecessors. But are their inherent inefficiencies truly the way to herald a new golden age of space exploration?
The expendable rocket mindset is one of the biggest remaining barriers to a new Space Age and, if the new US Moon programme is to lead to a ‘permanent’ lunar endeavour, economic and environmental sustainability are paramount. This means leaning towards low-cost, practical and private-sector driven solutions which have the potential to create profitable and sustainable new business opportunities.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), for example, is hardly ground-breaking or inventive - more a product of linear, stop-start development. Of course, it benefits from advanced technology and engineering but, five decades after Saturn V, it lacks true innovation and the spark of commercial endeavour.
At a time when reusability, in every sense of the word, should be at the forefront, agencies seem intent on pursuing the expendability route to orbit, albeit with a modern technical twist
The agency has spent about US$14 billion on its super rocket and related development costs since 2010 but SLS is not expected to fly before at least mid- to late 2021. In contrast, SpaceX privately developed its mostly reusable Falcon Heavy rocket on the back of its Falcon 9 for about US$500 million, and has flown three successful missions since February 2018.
Likewise, Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser is the only existing commercial spaceplane in the world that is both fully reusable and capable of a runway landing. Despite this NASA still only wants to use it for the transfer of cargo to the International Space Station.
At a time when reusability, in every sense of the word, should be at the forefront, agencies such as NASA (SLS), ESA (Ariane 6), Roscomsos (Soyuz), JAXA (H-IIB) and ISRO (GSLV) seem intent on pursuing the expendability route to orbit, albeit with a modern technical twist.
Do projects like SLS cast us far enough into the future or, in some perverse way, do they limit our future ambitions? The future of space and human exploration is intrinsically intertwined with our future on Earth itself. It should not be owned by politics and politicians but by risk-takers and the visionary.
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ROOM is delighted to be a media sponsor of this October’s International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Washington DC, one of the biggest and most important annual gatherings of space people.
Autumn also sees the first ever Asgardia Science & Investment Congress (14-16 October, Darmstadt, Germany), ‘Paving the Road to Living in Space’.
ASIC’s goal is to offer an alternative pathway to the future, eschewing the establishment mindset as it homes in on the parallel and interconnected themes of the extraordinary science and technology required to support permanent space habitats and the first humans born in space.
Specialist speakers will also assess how the vital investment and commercial returns needed to support these bold endeavours can be created.
If you want to join like-minded visionaries in planning the practical first steps to our future in space, there is still time to register via the website: www.asic2019.space
Managing Editor, ROOM – The Space Journal
In the waning weeks of spring, members of the US Congress debated the national budget, undoubtedly looking forward to a pending recess, as we at ROOM closely monitored the speeches, hearings, meetings and briefings in which government officials tried to justify a sudden policy shift for NASA.
Much pomp accompanied President Donald Trump’s so-called new “charge” to the space agency to land two astronauts on the Moon by 2024, four years earlier than previously planned.
Vice President Mike Pence led the charge in late March at a live-streamed meeting of the US National Space Council, setting off a marketing campaign complete with logos, slogans, aspirational videos featuring NASA employees (one narrated by William Shatner, Hollywood’s original Captain Kirk), and even the rather confident #Moon2024 hashtag.
In the two months following Pence’s speech, administrators at NASA say they canvassed much of the world’s space community to figure out how to meet the accelerated 2024 deadline, which Pence wants to make happen “by any means necessary”.
As of this writing - with summer approaching and Earth’s space enthusiasts getting ready to party like it’s 1969 - the Trump administration remains hopeful of ushering in a new era in space exploration: the Artemis era.
By degrees, they’ve unveiled the name, Artemis; the US$1.6 billion cost for fiscal 2020 that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine characterises as only a “down payment”; and finally a planned succession of spaceflights to culminate in a human landing in 2024.
Bridenstine has said speeding up the programme will help by “retiring political risk”. In other words - provided Trump gets re-elected next year - getting “boots on the Moon” faster could protect the programme from a politically motivated cancellation because the human landing would happen in the last year of this President’s second term.
The Trump administration remains hopeful of ushering in a new era in space exploration: the Artemis era
The NASA team also wants to accelerate lunar science investigations, saying international partners entering the programme in subsequent phases will benefit by having aspects of lunar infrastructure in place sooner to base their designs on.
Meanwhile, Artemis may have been a victim of its own PR. Three of Trump’s top administrators at NASA - evidently frustrated over the misperception that the newly named programme is, well, new - stressed in a relatively convincing pitch to the NASA Advisory Council on 21 May that years of work inside and outside of NASA, and billions of dollars spent in past budgets, have now put the agency in position to “sprint to the finish”.
Artemis relies on Boeing’s unfinished Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Lockheed Martin’s Orion capsule. The plan adds help from commercial launch providers and still theoretical providers of in-space transportation to do things such as ferry astronauts down to the surface and back.
As programmatic details get cleared up, we hope NASA will go into more detail about one aspect of Artemis in particular. Bridenstine has repeatedly pledged that the first Artemis crew will include the “first woman” and “next man” to walk on the Moon.
The name’s appeal is undeniable. Artemis is the Greek mythological character associated with the Moon and, according to legend, also the twin sister of Apollo, America’s Moon mission namesake of the 1960s and 1970s. Bridenstine says he thinks sending a real woman to the Moon will inspire the girls of what he’s now calling the “Artemis generation”.
So some have asked, and we look forward to a reply: why does a man even have to go at all?
US Commissioning Editor, ROOM
In its relatively short, six-decade history space exploration and its commercial applications have come to be perceived as cutting-edge, inspirational and a hugely beneficial pursuit for humankind in general.
But one of the biggest challenges faced today by the global space community and its new frontier entrepreneurs is arguably one of the least glamorous. How to deal with the increasing volume of space junk and debris orbiting Earth?
When it comes to anthropogenic space debris the question has to be asked: are we doing too little too late?
The dangers stacking up in Earth orbit are largely the result of the old “use it and throw it away” mentality prevalent throughout the early decades of space exploration, although certainly not unique to the Space Age.
Take a look at the detritus created by a modern, technologically literate human society right across our 21st century planet and you will see that such a throwaway culture seems firmly embedded in the human psyche.
But given our ever-growing reliance on orbiting technology, ensuring the lifetime safety of flight for satellites and future astronauts is now more important than ever because, if left unchecked, the dangers posed by space debris will rise exponentially.
A cascading debris event - the spontaneous timing of which is wholly unpredictable by its nature - could have a devastating effect on the space infrastructure we have come to rely on
Even as we transition from ‘old space’ to ‘NewSpace’ the preponderance of space debris shows little sign of abating. Despite some welcome initiatives, practical answers are still largely in their infancy.
So, if we want to maintain a rapidly evolving space programme that is both everyday and frontier, dealing with a problem of this magnitude can no longer be just an altruistic, desirable goal to be addressed “at some point in the future”. Space is too valuable for that.
Time is short but if we establish and adhere to basic guidelines, solutions are just about achievable. The space debris problem needs a two-pronged approach - cleaning up the junk we’ve already created and establishing international agreements to prevent it getting worse.
Our technological and commercial futures are at stake and the onus is on the whole space community to ensure the mess we’ve created on Earth isn’t replicated in orbit around our planet. Ultimately, safety in space is key for all operators and so far remedial actions are not being agreed or put in place anything like as quickly as they should be.
If it can’t be re-entered at the end of its useful life the ultimate goal for anything that goes into Earth orbit is to “retain, re-use and recycle”. But, of course, it is so often a question of commercial priorities - and looking after one’s own space junk doesn’t really pay.
The special series of articles on the following pages in this issue of ROOM is a welcome addition to the space debris debate. Each article addresses a different aspect and together they highlight the problems, challenges and some of the potential solutions.
Just as it is on Earth, now it is in space. And when it comes to anthropogenic space debris the question has to be asked: are we doing too little too late?
Managing Editor, ROOM – The Space Journal
It has long been clear that space is a niche industry. One has only to compare national budgets for aerospace and defence to realise that relatively little money is spent on space applications.
However, space has always ‘punched above its weight’ in terms of services rendered. Consider, for example, how a single communications satellite in geostationary orbit can revolutionise connectivity within and between nations, or how the GPS constellation has revolutionised vehicle navigation and, through its timing signals, global financial markets.
This ethos of inclusivity has been championed by ROOM - The Space Journal since its launch in 2014 and through its development as an open forum for the space profession
Moreover, space has often shown its capability to transcend politics and allow a free and friendly discourse between otherwise disparate nations. The usual historical examples include the Apollo-Soyuz docking mission of 1975 and the development and operation of the International Space Station. But even international conferences and publications have an important part to play in this discourse.
The early meetings of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) - from the first in Paris in 1950 - provide a good example, as they allowed scientists and engineers from the then Soviet Union to meet their counterparts from the West and discuss their ideas for satellites and manned exploration in a collegial atmosphere.
Although the world has a new set of political issues today, the relative sanctuary of the international conference continues to provide a similar function, as shown by the 2018 IAC in Bremen, Germany, with its theme of “Involving Everyone”, which ably summarises the general ethos of the space community.
This ethos of inclusivity has been championed by ROOM - The Space Journal since its launch in 2014 and through its development as an open forum for the space profession. This inclusivity is illustrated most obviously by the breadth of subject matter and expertise of its authors.
ROOM covers the spectrum from space science and engineering to policy and law, while also embracing contributions on space culture, history and art - in fact more or less anything that has space in the title!
This means that thoughtful pieces on otherwise excluded or forgotten aspects of the space profession become part of the discussion. For example, in any given issue of the magazine one might find one article on “humans as a multiplanetary species” pitched against another on “planetary protection”; or a piece on the short-term commercial development of Earth orbit balanced by another on the long-term sustainability of the orbital environment.
As with most aspects of life, the best way to reach an equitable conclusion is to present the facts in an open and honest fashion, and this is part of what ROOM is about.
Nor is age an issue: ROOM welcomes contributions from those starting out on their space careers as much as more experienced practitioners; while the first brings fresh new ideas, the second offers context and hindsight.
The rise of the space entrepreneur and the NewSpace industries offers a new paradigm to the space community. Newcomers would do well to embrace the institutional memory of the old guard. In this way, space will continue to be inclusive, egalitarian and revolutionary.
Commissioning Editor, ROOM - The Space Journal
It is fitting that, as NASA celebrates its 60th anniversary the agency decided for the first time to name one of its probes after a great living scientist, in this case the celebrated astrophysicist Eugene Parker.
With advanced heat shield technology, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will be the first to fly directly through the Sun’s corona to within a dizzying four million miles of the fiery surface - closer to the heat of the Sun than any spacecraft before.
The probe will gather new data on solar activity, unlocking mysteries of the corona and make critical and badly needed contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact our lives on Earth and those of astronauts in space.
In the same August week of the Parker probe launch NASA revealed the names of its first commercial crew astronauts who will blast off from the USA in 2019, flying Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Dragon to the International Space Station.
In six magnificent decades of pushing back the final frontier, NASA has instigated many great scientific and technological advances, and helped create new markets and new products that have changed life on Earth in many often unseen ways. And it continues to push forward.
Across medicine, healthcare and in ‘wearable technologies’ the translational relationship between space and terrestrial applications is two-way, with space also benefiting from new Earth-based technologies. This is evidenced in articles ‘Developing wearable technologies for space and Earth’ (p. 20) by David Alexander of Rice University and a specialist team from NASA, John Charles’ ‘Radiation study paves way for safe deep space exploration’ (p. 28) and Barbara Ghinelli’s ‘Connecting and collaborating for innovation’ (p. 34).
One of NASA’s defining hallmarks over the past six decades has been international partnerships, bringing together people of diverse backgrounds and working for the good of all humankind. Perhaps the greatest of these is the International Space Station, where astronauts from 18 nations have demonstrated their humanity, working with respect, cooperation and friendship.
As technology steers us ever closer to the stars and life in space becomes more of a ‘when’ rather than an ‘if’, understanding the human condition is essential if we are to successfully work and live together to meet the challenge of long-distance space travel.
This theme permeates a number of other articles in this issue of ROOM, not least in Martine-Nicole Rojina’s ‘Being human in space’ (p. 80) and Guerric de Crombrugghe’s suggestion in ‘The ethics of space exploration’ (p. 102) that in this new Space Age it is beholden on us to take a close look at the value to mankind of our activities and consider the inherent motivation behind our space ambitions.
Two of our opinion-led articles - Steven Freeland on ‘Why should we assume that war in space is inevitable?’ (p. 89) and Rick Tumlinson reflecting on ‘Funding the space frontier - a moment that changed the Universe’ (p. 94) - provide much food for thought in a similar vein.
Today we stand on the threshold of a new commercial space era with the potential to deliver new scientific discoveries, new sources of revenue and even new ‘homes’, all issues addressed by George Sowers in ‘Mining the Moon for fun and profit’ (p. 8). Embracing the ‘new’ will require that, just as on the International Space Station, we work together with respect, cooperation and friendship.
As Eugene Parker said after watching the lift-off of the Parker Solar Probe, “Wow, here we go! We’re in for some learning over the next several years!”
Commissioning Editor, ROOM - The Space Journal
One significant question hanging over the global space industry - and perhaps also the world at large given its reliance on space systems and technology - is the subjective premise of the article by Ward Munters, ‘Debris or not debris - is that the question?’ (p. 94).
New universal space laws and astropolitics are urgently needed to replace our current, outdated international space laws and geopolitics
Munters is responding adroitly to an article in our Winter issue (#14) by Darren McKnight, ‘Are we asking the right questions about space debris?’
In essence the questions raised pose something of a moral dilemma too - do we have both the collective ability and the desire to clean up our own growing mess in orbit?
Such questions permeate several other articles in this issue. For example, in ‘Monitoring marine litter by satellite’ (p. 60) Paolo Corradi and his ESA colleagues review the potential of satellites to help monitor the problem of plastic marine litter pollution that afflicts our oceans.
Marine litter, just like the escalating problem of space debris in the new ‘ocean’ of low Earth orbit, is almost entirely anthropogenic.
Thankfully, as far as space debris is concerned, there are a few companies and organisations working on what we might practically do to alleviate the problem. But, 50 years into the Space Age, options are still limited and late in the day.
Articles in our Space Security section highlight the difficulties we face in agreeing how to monitor and legislate internationally to manage not only space debris but also protect the wider space environment.
‘Ever-changing views on space resource utilisation’ (p. 13) by Dimitra Stefoudi addresses emerging disagreements on the exploitation of in-space resources, whilst Upasana Dasgupta examines the very real difficulties in reaching international consensus in ‘Flouting the rules on satellite registrations’ (p. 18).
From their different perspectives and in their own ways these authors raise crucial questions that have to be faced by the expanding global commercial space industry and NewSpace entrepreneurs - can they effectively police their own ambitions?
The multi-satellite constellations proposed by SGS, One-Web and SpaceX, for example, might help us expand the digital economy (‘Bridging the digital divide with nanosatellites’, p. 50) - but will commercial temptations trump global responsibility?
For the future, a balanced form of international space governance is vital to rein in potential excesses, lest low Earth orbit becomes an ‘orbital sea’ of space garbage, just like plastic in the oceans.
Of course, as well as financial motivation, the goals and ambitions of space entrepreneurs can be altruistic and for the common good. But the very fact these issues are raised so often in ROOM is a warning shot telling us that we all have a global responsibility to protect the high seas of space, (Michael Sinclair, ‘Guardians of the galaxy’, p. 8), and perhaps not just from a national perspective.
In the circumstances we face today there may well be a role for completely new entities like Asgardia, the space state, which was formed almost two years ago and inaugurated its first head of nation in June (Lena De Winne, ‘A moment in space and time’, p. 29).
Among Asgardia’s declared aims are to safeguard humanity’s future and help create a new and beneficial legal platform for the exploration of near-Earth and deep space.
As space development accelerates, it becomes ever more crucial that the laws and regulations that govern and protect space keep pace. Commercial space waits for no one and new universal space laws and astropolitics are urgently needed to replace our current, outdated international space laws and geopolitics.
Managing Editor, ROOM - The Space Journal
Imagining the future is a raison d’etre for those who work within the global space community and this issue of ROOM reflects the fact there is no shortage of futuristic plans and visions to challenge our cosy, current-day perspectives on where space exploration might take us.
Despite this I am constantly reminded that the fantastical visions of science and technology are not always adopted by the populus at large. Notwithstanding its influence on life today, ‘space’ is still alien to most people’s everyday experience.
TV and internet coverage of the maiden launch of the SpaceX Heavy rocket in January, along with the choreographed return to base of its twin boosters, is an example of how ‘space entrepreneurs’ are beginning to change this.
Whilst Elon Musk blasts his way into the commercial launch arena with one eye firmly on Mars, there are many new kids on the block like the Washington-based Lake Matthew Team (LMT).
Their article on page 42 details an ambitious mission to create an artificial crater on Mars and initiate a mini-terraforming event. If successful it could open a gateway to mining developments on the Red Planet, much as the 19th-century gold rush opened up the Wild West of America to commercial enterprise. The ‘practicality’ of such plans is both exciting and daunting at the same time.
“I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go into space” - Prof Stephen Hawking
But in all space ventures there remain thorny and more mundane questions to be resolved. What of national politics and, for example, how do we evolve existing rules and regulations to cope with the legal and moral complexities of mining resources from extraterrestrial bodies? And is society in general - and those that pursue these ambitions in particular - mature enough to pursue such goals altruistically?
Maybe, as Milan Mijovic dares to suggest in ‘Taxation of outer space: a next step for space exploration?’ on page 52, there should be some kind of tax on this new-found off-world wealth?
Also, stepping headlong into this world is the new Asgardia space nation, whose early stages of development have been reported in previous editions of ROOM. As with many futuristic ideas, Asgardia’s vision to build a nation that is somehow free from the political constraints of Earth also flies in the face of conventional wisdom.
Such projects represent a yet undefined vision of the future and, for now, the International Space Station (ISS) remains the single most remarkable example of how global collaboration and long-term thinking can be mutually beneficial for all involved.
Of course, in the cold light of everyday life, most of us have never ventured higher above Earth’s surface than on a commercial airflight. So to get that perspective we turn to philosophers and artists, like those featured in our Space Lounge section, and perhaps even to someone who has actually been into space.
Astronaut and artist Nicole Stott is one such person. She recalls on page 102 how five decades ago the famous Earth-rise picture from Apollo 8 allowed us to collectively view Earth as a ‘planet’ for the first time. In advice born of her spaceflight experience, she urges us to take time each day to acknowledge that “we live on a planet”. And, she adds, “Let’s use that truth to create the vision for our shared future.”
It is a view reflected by the great physicist Prof Stephen Hawking, who died at the age of 76 just as this issue of ROOM went to press. “I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go into space,” he stated.
Managing Editor, ROOM - The Space Journal
Unbelievably it has been almost a half century since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin bounced across the lunar landscape for the first time.
Certainly, in terms of human exploration, project Apollo was perceived as a stepping stone to greater things rather than marking a pinnacle of human achievement.
But the sudden cancellation of the final three missions - despite the fact that the hardware for each had already been built - ably illustrates the financial and political difficulties of sustaining space exploration. Apollo 20 was shelved in January 1970. Eight months later, Apollo 18 and Apollo 19 were also cancelled, making Apollo 17, all the way back in December 1972, the final and most recent human mission to the Moon.
Space exploration projects still need to be challenging and inspirational, perhaps with a nod towards commercialism
Five decades on and the United States, Europe, Russia, China, Japan and India, along with a handful of private entrepreneurs and firms, all harbour new lunar exploration ambitions.
In October 2017, US Vice-President Mike Pence announced a significant re-direction for NASA - a new road map to create a sustained human presence on the Moon’s surface. It’s a big change for the agency which, for the past decade, has been heading, somewhat tentatively, for a future of deep space exploration and taking humans to Mars.
But words are not enough and to become reality ambitious programmes require ambitious sums of money, along with sustained long-term political commitment.
Fortunately, NASA’s rapidly maturing new hardware for deep space missions can also be easily re-purposed to take us back to the Moon. Its giant rocket - known prosaically as the ‘Space Launch System’ (SLS) - and a crew capsule called Orion designed to carry people into deep space, can easily become the mainstay of future lunar missions.
A so-called cislunar architecture and an associated economy that supports or is part of a return to the Moon offers many opportunities.
Fresh political direction and some of the essential hardware may almost be in place but establishing a sustained presence on the Moon is also going to require the creation of a lunar lander, habitats, life support systems and more.
Long-term funding (at one point, NASA estimated a return to the Moon would cost upwards of US $100 billion) and time (particularly in a political context) are rare commodities in our modern world.
To succeed, space exploration projects still need to be challenging and inspirational, perhaps with a nod towards commercialism. They must also cover the bases of meaningful international partnerships and private sector participation, and include the less glamorous aspects of building components, delivering cargo and providing ‘multi-layered’ services.
Today, the nature of leadership in space is very different to the politically driven aspirations of the 1960s and 1970s. Back then it was more about doing things that no other country could do - and being there first.
Ten years after Apollo 11, the science writer and science fiction author Arthur C Clarke suggested that space travel might be “a technological mutation that should not really have arrived until the 21st century”.
If mankind was not really ready to go to the Moon in the late 1960s and the early 1970s then perhaps now is exactly the right time.
Managing Editor, ROOM - The Space Journal
Sixty years ago on 4 October 1957 the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1 became the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth and the world woke up to a new age - the Space Age.
This first satellite was a marker in human history and heralded a massive period of growth in science and technological development, much of it spurred by the subsequent six decades of space exploration.
In its broadest sense the whole sphere of space exploration, its inherent international cooperation and the expanding worldwide business of space has had a massively positive impact on the world.
Space exploration, its inherent international cooperation and the expanding worldwide business of space has had a massively positive impact on the world
Despite this, one wonders whether planet Earth has perhaps become a rather gloomy place of late - a world where vested interests often trump the wider common good, a world where optimism might be in short supply?
Like so many inventions and revolutions that have come of age and spawned a new breed of adventurers and entrepreneurs, there are also significant pitfalls and dangers on the road into deeper space.
In his magnum opus De Re Metallica (Of Metal Matters) on natural resources, the 16th century scientist and philosopher Georgius Agricola wrote, ‘Good men employ the elements for good and to them they are useful. The wicked use them badly and to them they are harmful.’
The approach of Agricola, widely regarded as the originator of the experimental approach to science, is perhaps more sensible than either the blind faith of the pure optimist or the destructive cynicism of the pessimist.
His renaissance philosophy speaks to many of the challenges society still faces today because many of our most potent technologies - space included - are finely balanced between creation and destruction, between benefit and exploitation.
Whereas sometimes a mechanism might be needed to tip the balance towards good, Agricola’s philosophy also reminds us of the need for wise leadership whether in politics, business, science or technology.
In Earth orbit, for example, we continue to exploit the opportunities provided by satellites for communications, navigation, TV broadcasting, observation and research, whilst at the same time creating a serious debris problem.
Space exploration is inextricably linked to the great reach of human progress and, if our further expansion beyond Earth is not to stall, the considered words of a scientist such as Agricola might just provide guidance enough for our future custody of the space realm.
We might also be wise to heed the solemn and inherent warning in a Buddhist proverb which tells us that ‘to every man is given the key to the gates of heaven, the same key also opens the gates of hell.’
In the days following the first Sputnik our vision of the future was perhaps more constrained but today we find ourselves on the threshold of a new space era, eagerly anticipating space tourism, permanent science bases on the Moon and, eventually, the first humans on Mars.
Entrepreneurs and nations are eyeing the untold mineral wealth of asteroids and the opportunity of a new mining ‘gold rush’ for which the old ways of doing business will not suffice.
Neatly juxtaposed with the Sputnik anniversary is the first birthday of Asgardia, the world’s first ‘space nation’ which is also about to mark its presence in orbit with the launch of its inaugural satellite.
In all of these ventures judicious leadership and governance are vitally important. By the same token, we are all part of the whole and hold individual keys to our own destinies. As we come to celebrate the anniversary of the first Earth orbiting satellite, this means we can all be part of the future in whichever way we choose.
Managing Editor, ROOM - The Space Journal
Compared to even a few years ago there appears to be a growing shift in both the perception of and ambition for what can be realistically achieved by the global space industry.
Nations that eschewed a space presence in the past, perhaps because of cost, are now attracted by an increasing array of commercial opportunities and, in many cases, the absolute need to be up there with the rest.
Miniaturisation is playing no small part in this revolution as cubesats and nanosats begin to deliver ever more sophisticated payloads at the kind of affordable costs that were little more than a pipe dream a decade or more ago.
Articles in this third anniversary issue reflect the rapidly evolving global space scene, providing a unique and diverse perspective into the achievements, practicalities and visions of the future.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than by Anthony Freeman, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who dispels the view in ‘Big science from small spacecraft’ (p. 18) that planetary exploration is the domain of large multi-payload spacecraft.
Emerging markets are eager to make their mark, as Temidayo Oniosun, from Nigeria, describes in ‘Africa is open for business’ (p. 58), and Narayan Prasad, coordinator of the ‘NewSpace India’ digital platform, supports in his article ‘India’s dynamic ecosystem for space entrepreneurship’ (p. 62),
In parallel, disruptive trends continue to shake up the accepted way of doing things and in ‘On-orbit assembly will deliver major benefits in the coming decade’ (p. 10) Iain Boyd, of the Washington-based Science & Technology Policy Institute, assesses how this might impact future space missions.
And, in the aptly titled ‘Space invaders initiate disruptive EO trends’ (p. 26), Gil Denis, of Airbus Defence & Space in Toulouse, views the convergence between defence needs and commercial capacities as a challenge to the paradigm of traditional leadership led by governments and public organisations.
Bigger and more distant dreams are afoot too. In ‘Space nation set to mark its presence in orbit’ (p. 33) Lena De Winne provides a report from Hong Kong on the announcement in June that the world’s first space kingdom, Asgardia, is preparing to launch its inaugural satellite.
The Asgardia-1 nanosatellite will carry into orbit digital messages from around 250,000 Asgardian citizens and their families, marking the first stage in a long-term vision to provide orbiting bases and help protect Earth from space hazards.
Looking to deep space, Seth Shostak of California’s SETI Institute suggests in ‘Science searches for cosmic company’ (p. 76) that the discovery of alien life is now more likely than ever before, whilst astronomers Manisha Caleb (‘Telescope targets enigmatic deep space mystery’ p. 80) and Robert Izzard (‘Binary stars and their extraordinary lives’ p. 84) push back the boundaries of cosmic astronomy.
This issue (number 12) marks the third anniversary of ROOM’s publication, during which time the magazine has matured in reputation and global reach. Not only a valued source of information, ROOM is also a forum for informed comment and opinion. Its vision is to support the worldwide community of space engineers, scientists, students, post-graduates, entrepreneurs and visionaries who are all working towards common goals for the benefit of all humankind.
To all our readers, contributors and subscribers - thank you for your support over our first three years and we look forward to exciting times ahead!
Managing Editor, ROOM - The Space Journal
So often the choices of today - whether relating to general politics or space policy - affect the future of tomorrow. All decisions have repercussions and if ever there was a moment in time when this was so, it is now.
In 2016, the electorates of the United States and the United Kingdom both made choices that are charting new pathways into unknown territory for their respective countries.
Whilst the national space policies of the Trump administration are being defined in detail commercial space presses ahead regardless. And for the UK - Europe’s third biggest space player - the future has suddenly become harder to predict.
In his opinion piece ‘Could Brexit blow a hole in UK’s space ambitions?’ (p. 98), Dr Mike Leggett suggests Britain leaving the EU might have unanticipated effects on the long-established cooperation of the UK and Europe in space.
The long lead times associated with developing space missions and technology often puts them at odds with the short-terminism of politics. And yet today we are witnessing a rapid expansion of technology and ambitions.
Regardless of the political landscape, the cosmic tide is being turned by a new wave of commercialism driven by the NewSpace generation of space companies and entrepreneurs.
Swift progress towards deployment of large satellite constellations (‘Mega challenges for mega constellations’ by Holger Krag, p. 16 and ‘Urgent action needed to keep satellites safe in orbit’ by Mark A. Skinner, p. 22) point to serious issues in the space environment - not just for the future but for now.
As Dylan Taylor writes in ‘Space economics - industry trends and space investing’ (p. 75), new business models and capital sources are also changing the fundamental economics of space.
We are, indeed, at a crossroads and ‘The Road Not Taken’, a poem by US writer Robert Frost, serves as an apt reminder. It ends with the words, ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference’.
Other articles in this issue also reflect this. In ‘Spaceplane rationale - a new way of thinking’ (p. 60) David Ashford argues that a choice made by NASA four decades ago probably led to a very different future for the global launcher industry.
As the world moves toward a new reality, we urgently need to establish viable and effective laws capable of addressing new and very different kinds of space applications and use.
ROOM is delighted to be at the vanguard of this movement, highlighting some of the many questions that the evolving political and space landscape is throwing to the fore.
Not the least of these is the search for a new system of space governance - a globally agreed system of laws and codes of conduct for the benefit of all humanity, not just those with the power and might to muscle their way to the front.
On the face of it the subject is dry and meticulous but outdated legal regimes can no longer be ignored. Nowhere is change and adaptation needed more than in the realm of space law and governance.
The articles in our special Space Security report (p. 28) are all based on a new study contributed to by more than 80 lawyers and space professionals from around the world.
Important choices and decisions lie ahead, not only for our national and global politicians but also for those at the heart of the international space community.
In the words of Frost, we once again approach a crossroads of choices. Does humanity take the well-trodden path of least resistance or do we head intelligently and wisely into a brave new world of cooperation and togetherness - and go daringly and boldly into the future?
Managing Editor, ROOM - The Space Journal
Dreaming big in my book was always the only way worth dreaming. For as long as I can remember I was always convinced that the world should be good for everyone, that the more people are happy, the better place for all it becomes, irrespective of the country of birth, race or gender.
I dreamt of flying and that is why I became a pilot. I dreamt to preserve peace and that is why I joined military - to work hard on safeguarding peace. I made an astronaut selection and I was privileged to fly to space.
And this is where it all came together - as I was looking out of the window of the International Space Station I saw with my own eyes that borders do not exist. I saw continents, I saw the most magnificent colours, I saw day and night changing every 45 minutes, I saw familiar shapes from the map - you would all recognise Italy - the natural shape of the peninsula.
But I did not see any borders, even though I instinctively tried to look. The only contours I could see from space were the contours of the continents which naturally formed on Earth over the millions and millions of years, under the influence of our entire galaxy, as it evolved, while planets and stars were forming; our galaxy being a small part of the infinite Universe.
Life in space as a metaphor has inspired people for many centuries. Life in space as an activity has so far been available only to a select few. Life in space as a goal is nowadays driving the inspiration and the break thoughs of the great thinkers of the 21st century.
One such life-changing ideas was brought to public view on 12 October 2016. Nothing less than a new nation, the space nation - Asgardia.
Dreaming big is what resonates with me the most in the Asgardia concept. I wholeheartedly invite you to read about it on page 53 and I hope you share in my excitement of the vision.
Things once foreseen by the great dreamers of previous centuries and decades may come true in our life time
While I would love to fly to space again, it is clear that it is going to be somebody younger than me who will be the first human to fly to Asgardia by the time it launches its first habitable platform.
It will happen only a few generations of launches later than the launch of the first Asgardia satellites. And yet, it is a vision which I find the most inspiring in its complexity, as it offers a renewed philosophy of humanism, a long awaited interplanetary (literally, interplanetary, as opposed to just global) approach to legislation and a sound technical roadmap for achieving it.
Reflecting the Asgardia project, this issue of ROOM has much to inspire. There is a commentary on Elon Musk’s equally ambitious plans for Mars (p10) and a detailed report by engineers from Lockheed Martin on the practical implications of NASA’s own ‘Journey to Mars’ (p16).
Articles from graduate scientists and engineers (Micehab p43) and (CosmoCrops p48) look at some of the practical issues for future human Solar System exploration, while Rick Tumlinson (p64) and Joe Pelton (p68) argue for political changes that will allow humanity’s expansion into space.
Author Arthur C Clarke once predicted, “In the new wilderness of the Solar System may lie the future preservation of mankind.” So, it seems, we are finally at the dawn of a new frontier. Things once foreseen by the great dreamers of the previous centuries and decades may come true in our life time - a space nation aspiring to be an independent country - the first ever state in space.
One might question if that is possible. All I can say is that enough people questioned whether it was possible for me to become an astronaut. My answer - dream big, dream for the good of the humankind.
Frank De Winne
ESA astronaut, UNESCO EOLSS
‘The Science of Space’ committee
Revs are running high as ROOM - The Space Journal boldly enters its third year as a unique platform where world leading space experts and opinion makers share their ultimate achievements, grave concerns and daring visions for the world future.
I am honoured and humbled, after one and half decades at the European Space Agency (ESA), having lived through a space mission of my husband, having published books of prose and poetry and having hosted a television show, to be running our constantly growing network of ROOM contributors - a network of extraordinary women and men, who help shape our future.
It is no secret that the world order today is much more volatile and unstable than one would have guessed even a decade ago. While knowledge grows exponentially and so do the hi-tech benefits, can we say the same about the ethics and moral values of different parts of human society? In the face of our calamitous political world, Jacques Arnoud shares his ideas with readers.
While we seem to be in a good technical shape to go beyond low Earth orbit, are we truly united in the face of the unknown?
In this issue you can also read about how to be immersed into a pool and yet remain dry as a way of contributing to future interplanetary human missions, how to visit a dentist en route to Mars, and the development of a space suit by an international multi-disciplinary team for the first Moon dwellers. Hey, wouldn’t you like to weigh six times less? I know I would!
Next time you gaze into the night sky looking for the International Space Station, think of those incredible bacteria which can survive in extreme environments, as astrobiologist Michaela Musilova reveals.
And look out for the mysteriously absent dwarf galaxies explained by Olivia Keenan. If you are like me, and you like the mythological notion that our Milky Way was formed as Greek goddess Hero spilled her breast milk feeding baby Hercules, the question of where those dwarf galaxies come from is a good one to ponder.
Can modern space exploration be compared to the colonisation campaigns of the 17th century? Harris Innes-Miller identifies analogies that span the centuries and suggests we might do well to learn from the past so that people living a couple of centuries from now don’t have to deal with colonial guilt and retributions after we land on other celestial bodies.
Perhaps ion engines will be used to make such travel possible? Read what Michael J. Patterson thinks about it.
While we seem to be in a good technical shape to go far beyond low Earth orbit soon, are we truly united in the face of the unknown? Are we optimising all cutting edge achievements and resources to make it work?
The answer, sadly, is ‘no’ and Jim Brindenstine brings us down to Earth as he explains the priorities, alliances and rivalries between the key players in the global space arena. That is from an American perspective of course.
To sum it all up I ask myself, will URBOCOP as proposed by Igor Ashurbeyli, save us as citizens of planet Earth from natural cosmic hazards and even from ourselves?
As a cautious optimist, I choose to think that we have grown far enough from the pitiful human flaw described thus in Shakespeare’s First Sonnet: ‘Making famine where abundance lies, Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel’.
All of you, dear fellow space professionals and space enthusiasts, dear ROOM readers, with all your work, drive, commitment and aspirations, with your interest, passion and constructive thinking raise faith into the future of humanity.
We are open 24/7 at www.room.eu.com to hear your thoughts and ideas about space and beyond. Looking forward to meeting you in person and on-line soon.
Lena De Winne
Director, ROOM – The Space Journal
The challenge of exploring space manifests many benefits and enduring qualities for humankind and, at a time when many individual nations face tough challenges and choices, space can be a unifying and positive force.
Stimulating and sharing new ideas across the global aerospace industry, space science communities and academia is an important part of our mission at ROOM. Cross-pollination is a welcome outcome, with international cooperation becoming a common theme that surfaces naturally in many of the articles we publish.
For the space industry in particular, international cooperation has become almost a de facto fault line. It even crosses the former Iron Curtain in the case of France and the former Soviet Union, as the CEO of Arianespace, Stephane Israel, writes in his article (p. 22), which celebrates two decades of space launch cooperation between France, Europe and Russia.
This is just one example of many spanning the global space industry, encapsulated by the great American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford, when he said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”
In his article ‘Flying in formation: why China and the rest of the world should collaborate in low Earth orbit’ (p. 32) independent analyst Chen Lan challenges the political establishments of both East and West to take advantage of a unique opportunity to work together in low Earth orbit.
‘Astropolitics’ might be part of a new approach to space, setting a framework for dealing with many potential issues
International Space Station partners face important choices after its retirement and though China has expressed a willingness to join the project many times all attempts have previously been rejected by the United States. Political and legal obstacles often prove more challenging and difficult than technical issues.
Space law is certainly one area which displays elements of both cooperation and ambitious individuality, the latter driven by commercial aspirations to take advantage of the anticipated rich pickings to be had when it comes to mining valuable resources in outer space.
ROOM was delighted to be closely involved with the ‘4th Manfred Lachs International Conference on Conflicts in Space and the Rule of Law’ held in Montreal, Canada, which proved fertile ground for international lawyers and experts who gathered to discuss and debate this and other related issues.
However, human nature being what it is, someday in the not too distant future the first serious crime will be committed in space - what will it be and how will we handle it?
In Montreal, Igor Ashubeyli suggested that ‘Astropolitics’ might be part of a new international approach, setting a framework for dealing with potential issues and defining who would be responsible for trying, convicting and punishing someone who commits, for example, a murder in space.
Some of these questions raised are also discussed in the thought-provoking article ‘Exploring the problems of criminal justice in space’ (p. 87), contibruted by Christopher Newman, a reader in law at the University of Sunderland in the UK.
It certainly goes without saying that as more and more people venture into low Earth orbit and beyond, the issue of how to deal with an off-world crime will necessarily come to the fore.
Especially challenging is devising a procedure that will uphold the investigation and punishment of any crime and how this might be administered on, for example, a long duration interplanetary space mission.
In the final analysis, cooperation is key. We share common responsibility for a world of eight billion. And as we move into a new era of space exploitation and exploration we need imaginative international cooperation, steadfast commercial treaties and robust laws like never before.
As I thought about the event in Montreal and the origins of air travel, it occurred to me that French people have always been at the frontier. Really, you ask?
The founding fathers of aeronautics were the Montgolfier brothers (for the sake of argument let us forget about Daedalus and Icarus as we can’t quite be sure of their citizenship). And marquis d’Arlandes and baron Pilatre de Rozier were the first to launch an aerostat balloon. Henri Giffard, also a Frenchman, was the first to equip the balloon with a mechanical engine, while back in 1884, his countrymen Charles Renard and Arthur Krebs were the first to take a fully controllable airship on an 8 km trip at a speed of 23.5 km per hour, landing back right where they started.
We gather for international conferences to discuss our differences whilst at the same time building legal foundations for the conflicts we create
Though it was the great Russian scientist and inventor Mikhail Lomonosov who designed a spring-driven helicopter model with coaxial rotors way back in 1754 he, of course, didn’t actually fly... And, if we kept going back in time, we’d also have to consider the great Italian, Leonardo Da Vinci.
But let us cut short our historical digression and return to the present. This issue of ROOM magazine coincides with the 4th Annual Manfred Lachs International Conference ‘Conflicts in Space and the Rule of Law’ at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, which is in turn dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the Institute of Air and Space Law.
Human beings are truly remarkable creatures. It was only 100 years ago that we really learned to get up into the sky. And, despite it being little more than half a century since we first scratched the surface of space, we have already managed to run into conflicts in this new realm of opportunity.
We gather for international conferences to discuss our differences while simultaneously, or pre-emptively, building a legal foundation for the conflicts we create. And the question of ‘who is more important in space?’ - the military, lawyers or financiers - is still an open-ended one.
In The Merry Wives of Windsor, one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays, the English playwright and poet wrote, ‘Money is good soldier, sir, and will on’. A true saying, of course. But is that to be the fate of international space law? Rule of the powerful or rule of the wealthy? Will only the money soldier on? Or will it finally be the rule of justice?
It also raises the question, what is justice? Membership of the great club of space powers is limited to a select few - less than the fingers on one hand - and in that exclusive club today there is one clear leader. The test will be whether this leader ultimately delivers a true space ‘democracy’ across legal, military and economical boundaries.
Will this be accepted by both current members of the club and those countries that are quickly approaching the technological threshold required for membership? And how will the pvying up of Space be different from the historical pvying up of Earth?
Something tells me that international humanitarian calls for a peaceful and open space will not be easily heard. Space, up and beyond the skies above, will not necessarily be peaceful or cloudless.
Sadly, humanity has not changed. The very nature of homo sapiens - or even that of homo ‘gambliens’ - will not allow us to harness our ancient earthly instincts. And we will live to see new space cowboys in lunar saloons and on space ranchos.
The world will never be the same again. How many people on how many occasions have said this? And yet, if humanity were to define a single life-changing event in the entire history of planet Earth what would it be?
Certainly a top contender would be the catastrophic changes triggered by the collision of a giant meteorite with Earth which brought life to a sudden end for the epoch’s living creatures and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Imagine, though, we could travel back some 65 million years to the Mesozoic era, taking with us all the knowledge and technology available today. Would we have been able to foresee the approach of such a meteorite in advance? And what could we have done to avoid it?
Despite millions of years of evolution and our rapid recent technological progress, the unannounced Chelyabinsk meteorite impact over Russia of February 2013 might actually suggest very little.
In this issue our contributors discuss a broad range of innovative projects crucial for ‘conquering’ space and ultimately the survival of the human race
Many great scientists and writers have pondered this matter - among them Johannes Kepler, Galileo, Tsiolkovsky, Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking.
And in this issue of ROOM our contributors follow in their footsteps, discussing a broad range of innovative projects and developments crucial for the ‘conquering’ of space and ultimately the survival of the human race.
Perhaps our situation is still best summarised by Wernher von Braun in A Plea for a Coordinated Space Program when he wrote in 1953, ‘I only hope that we shall not wait to adopt the space programme until after our astronomers have reported a new and unsuspected asteroid moving across their fields of vision with menacing speed. At that point it will be too late!’
Whereas space agencies and governments have traditionally taken the lead in defining the development paths for science and technology used in spaceflight, today the commercial sector is picking up pace in defining the future of space.
Maybe this is also a sign that human society in general is getting closer to fully recognising the true importance of space exploration - and all the implications it has for the future of life on Earth.
And, who knows, if we keep evolving exponentially it might be in our lifetime that the first interplanetary settlers leave Earth to lay the foundations of living on another planet.
They will be the true ambassadors for humankind in the universe. When we hear that familiar phrase ‘we have a lift off’ we know they will be on their way - and the world will never be the same again.
The new issue of ROOM has been timed to coincide with the International Astronautical Federation’s 66th Congress, which takes place in Jerusalem this year.
I believe that Israel playing host to the International Astronautical Congress (or IAC, as it’s commonly known) this year is not accidental. In the last decade, Israel has made huge strides for science and engineering in the space industry – everybody is familiar with Israeli technology, from space drones to navigations systems, and this sector promises even greater progress for this nation in the years to come.
Authors Madry, Jakhu, and Pelton zero in on what is clearly one of the most important issues facing us today – an enormous regulatory gap that must be dealt with without stifling private space initiative
This issue’s main theme is the story of the thrilling discovery of Kepler-452b – potentially the most Earth-like planet ever found – as told by Jon Jenkins, lead data analyst at the Kepler mission.
I am also delighted to tell you that in this issue, we have presented a number of articles on similar themes as told from different viewpoints, in line with our aims to serve as a discussion platform. In our astronautics section, we tackle two equally fascinating environments – Mars and Pluto. When it comes to security, our authors look at how to best address the challenge of space debris and deorbiting satellites. When it comes to the environment, we address how the European Space Agency is now performing Earth observation, as well as how to deal with the threat of asteroid impact. We also have two in-depth reports on important space industry advances involving the evolution of green cosmonautics and the evolution of food in space.
I furthermore wish to highlight our reports on the strides that the UK and Japan have respectively made with regard to space. Discussing the achievements of individual countries’ space programmes is an important new direction for us, as we want to maintain and widen our international perspective. We now aim for two country profiles in each print issue.
Finally, I ask everyone to pay special attention to the article on global space governance, which urges the space community to address how “new space,” a.k.a. for-profit space exploration, is moving beyond traditional government-funded missions. In “The Global Space Governance Study,” authors Scott Madry, Ram Jakhu, and Joseph N. Pelton zero in on what is clearly one of the most important issues facing us today – an enormous regulatory gap that must be dealt with without stifling private space initiative.
ROOM aims to be very active in helping organise and publicise next year’s conference on space governance – and help all interested parties discuss the problems presented in the article. So watch this space (no pun intended) and happy reading!
The fourth issue of ROOM comes out in the summer of 2015, 70 years after the end of World War II. I would therefore like to take the opportunity to congratulate all of you, without exception, on this landmark date in human history.
Warfare had taken to the air earlier, during World War I, in the beginning of the 20th century. By the time World War II began, the role of aviation and air defence in warfare grew in scope and size several times over. In the 70 years that followed, regional wars and localised conflicts demonstrated significant increase of height, speed, range and other improved technical characteristics of both defensive and offensive aerial warfare.
Beginning in the 20th century, we also began to put up all kinds of cosmic and cross-environment flying apparatuses into space. In spite of international agreements on the demilitarisation of space, some of this technology can have, at the very least, a double purpose.
I want to believe that humanity will resist the temptation to take its earthly quarrels to space
Therefore, in this quite significant year for Europe, for republics of the former USSR, the U.S., Japan, China, and all over the world– in the year we celebrate defeating fascism – I want to believe that humanity will resist the temptation to take its earthly quarrels to space, and that the cosmos will remain pure and open to joint, peaceful exploration by us all.
Finally, I would like to give a short summary of our latest editorial news at ROOM:
The fourth issue of the magazine is timed to coincide with the international Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France, which takes place from June 15 to June 21. We extend our greetings to all participants and guests of the air show and invite you to visit our stand at Hall 6 – A19. We are also participating in the International
Aviation and Space Salon in the town of Zhukovsky, Moscow region, Russia, from August 25 to August 30. There we will also look forward to seeing friends and everyone who is interested in aerospace issues.
In our fourth issue, we particularly wished to highlight innovations and new technologies in the space industry.
I hope you will find this issue both interesting and enjoyable. Happy reading!
I am thrilled to welcome you to the third issue of ROOM magazine - a publication that continues to thrive and develop.
In December of 2014, we held our very fi rst editorial board meeting in London. I would like to extend my warmest gratitude to all board members who could make it - as well as to those who could not make it, but still sent extremely helpful suggestions and advice.
In this issue, we aim to explore the satellite industry at length
I would in particular like to single out Mary Lynne Dittmar, who participated via Skype in spite of an enormous time difference, Tsuneo Nishida, who fl ew eleven hours to discuss space, a topic that was then relatively new to him, yet nevertheless one that inspired him to share considerable wisdom with the rest of our team, and Barbara Ghinelli, who devoted so much of her personal time to working with us.
I would like to note that our magazine has contiued to increase its scope. In this issue, we have contributions from countries such China, Japan and Australia. We are also privileged to be receiving feedback and acknowledgements from all over the world.
In 2015, ROOM plans to have a strong presence at crucial international events. We will see you at Satellite 2015 in Washington D.C., at the Paris Air Show - Le Bourget, at the Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Maryland, at the Heads of Space Agencies Summit on Climate Change and Disaster Management in Mexico City, and at the 66th International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem. We’ll be glad to say hello. Please stop by to see us!*
We also plan on having our next editorial board meeting this June in Paris - and we look forward to bringing you news of what we achieve.
For now, I would like to turn your attention back to the magazine, and the exciting array of articles therein. We have devoted a great deal of space to the topic of satellites - a booming industry, beset by challenges, characterised by tremendous breakthroughs, and continuously fascinating to watch develop. As always, we continue to look forward to your feedback. Happy reading!
It is my pleasure to present to you the second issue of ROOM, the space magazine. During the past months, our young publication has come a long way, both creatively and literally.
ROOM began its travels around the globe by participating in the International Airshow that was held from 14-20 July in Farnborough, UK. Several thousand Airshow attendees got a chance to see the magazine, among them those from leading world aerospace corporations, SMEs, airlines and space agencies from various countries and continents.
After that we went to Brussels, where we presented ROOM to the Agoria Industrial Association and to the representatives of the European Parliament. Then, from 29 September to 3 October we participated in the 65th International Astronautical Congress in Toronto – the key annual International Astronautics Federation conference, which gathers leaders of the space industry and astronauts from different parts of the world under one roof. The ROOM booth hosted a lively discussion between delegates from different countries and we ran out of copies before the conference was over!
These projects reflect the fact that the universe, once so giant and frightening, so vast and mysterious, is becoming smaller and smaller
Finally, in October, we participated in an Asia-US Workshop for the leading world market high-tech companies in Japan. As you can see, our magazine staff have been kept busy with this exciting and intense schedule. All seven thousand copies were distributed and very well received.Editorial board
During this time, we’ve made a lot of new friends, but even more importantly, our first editorial board has been formed. Today, I’m happy to introduce you to a few of its members:
The board is open to newcomers, and we encourage your offers of participation.A historic few months
Human activity in space has been quite intense during this time. Of course, I’m talking about the ISRO launch of Mangalyaan into Martian orbit (which will aid in further development of interplanetary missions), and Rosetta – the historical ESA mission to the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet. Preparations for the mission started over 20 years ago, the launch happened ten years ago, and this autumn, for the first time in human history, a probe has landed on a comet. We are truly witnessing epic feats of humanity.
This issue explores the topic of Mars in great detail. We have covered the preliminary information sent by Rosetta, but will expand upon this in future issues, as new data is received. However, even now we can say that the obvious successes of these national and international projects reflect the fact that the universe, once so giant and frightening, so vast and mysterious, is becoming smaller and smaller.
We are beginning to see ourselves as one whole, living in this large and yet, at the same time, small home. And only together, through the efforts of all of humanity, will we be able to sustain peace and ecological balance.
What humanity needs today is mutual trust in the field of international space cooperation. We will come back to this topic in future issues of ROOM.
Welcome to a brand new journal, a brand new concept, and a brand new “ROOM”. The name of our journal derives from the fact that “room” is a synonym for “space.” If I feel too confined, for example, I may need more room – more space – around me.
What are the limits of our individual space? They encompass the entire universe. The macrocosm and the microcosm do not exist separately from one another. We all live within the cosmos, which begins in the quietest corner of our house and continues ever outward, toward galaxies so distant that we can barely begin to fathom them.
I should like to point out that the logo of this journal incorporates the symbol for Virgo, a star sign that was often drawn alongside images of wheat, symbolising the harvest on Earth. It is that connection between the cosmic and earthly that represents to us the undeniable link between our own home and the cosmos – and represents the main theme of our journal, which has to do with space environmental issues.
The journal will become a meeting place for intellectuals and experts affiliated with the space community
How does the cosmos affect our Earth, our geopolitics, our everyday life? Will we ever feel at home in space, or will it always be the source of our most primal fears? Will we take to space the same military squabbles we have on this planet or will we preserve it for future generations of a united mankind? Will it be a dumping ground for all of our rubbish or a source of energy and life? It is our journal’s task to seek answers to these and many other questions.
There are three basic directions for our research: First of all, there is astronautics – the exploration of space. Meteorology, astronomy, low and high-orbiting civilian satellites, observatories; all this and more is covered within this section.
The second direction concerns space environmental issues: space junk; holes in the ozone layer; cosmic microwave background; and other environmental issues. Thirdly, we aim to cover threats to humankind’s survival – both the danger of asteroids and meteorites, and manmade, military threats in air and space. We will look at the history of armed conflict, existing weaponry and technology, means of aerospace attack and aerospace defence, and the way these factors affect geopolitics.
The subject of space is so important that it is never too early to start learning about it, which is why we will be creating the “Play ROOM,” a special section aimed at younger readers.
Our aim is to publish a highly professional, scientific and, at the same time, popular journal, one that will not confound the general reader. The publication will be accessible to everyone with an interest in the aerospace environment.
The journal will become a meeting place, a discussion forum for intellectuals and experts directly and indirectly affiliated with the space community from all around the world. The discussion will happen in real time on our website: www.room.eu.com. Members of the international expert community will hold a biannual gathering at the “ROOM” conference. The papers presented will be published in the “White Book of Aerospace Exploration.”
All of this will enable us to bring together an international, non-governmental expert council on space matters – the Socium, as we like to call it. At the present time we are putting together the journal’s Editorial Board and will be delighted to hear your suggestions. Welcome to “ROOM”!