Commercial Spaceflight And The Dawning Age of NewSpace

Gerstenmaier: LEO Commercialization Requires Space Industry to Be Innovative, Nimble

NASA’s Bill Gerstenmaier said on Wednesday (February 3) that the key to successful commercialization of low Earth orbit (LEO) is for the space industry to become more innovative and nimble.

Commercial satellite systems like Iridium that were intended to provide voice and data services to underserved parts of the globe lost out to undersea fiber optic cables and terrestrial cell phone towers because the aerospace industry moved too slowly, he argued. “We have to be extremely nimble. … We as an industry were so slow in doing that we got whacked by a terrestrial market that could turn and deliver faster.”

The same threat hangs over potential use of the near-zero gravity environment available in LEO for applications in areas such as pharmaceuticals. Electrophoresis was once envisioned as a promising area for space commercialization because without gravity much purer substances can be produced. However, back on Earth, genetic engineering advances made it possible to do almost as good a job. “We could create a 99% pure insulin on orbit, [but] they could create a 98% pure insulin through genetic engineering. That won because they could turn to the market faster and be responsive.”

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See on Scoop.itThe NewSpace Daily


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