• Michael Weeding

Why the world needs privately funded space cadets

The Urban Dictionary describes a “space cadet” as someone who is so easily lost in reverie that he or she loses all awareness of the surrounding physical world. The objective of this phase is usually to insult another, although maybe we should use it to complement as the really successful people in today’s world seem to have the ability to disconnect. So will Jeff Bezos become the most famous space cadet of all time?

Blue Origin is a is a privately funded aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos and the company is developing technologies to enable private human access to space with the goal of dramatically lowering the cost. Bezos has reportedly invested $500 million into the start-up and that investment could pay off now that Blue Origin has partnered with Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corporation and have been awarded a NASA contract to develop the next generation rocket engines.

Blue Origin has not just appeared out of the blue, it has been developing for the last three years an engine that experts say represents the future of space launch that uses a commercially available form of methane, which is relatively inexpensive and eliminates the need for complex pressurisation systems used in existing engines. Considering the cost of launch is where most of the money of space exploration is burnt up this a key requirement in the race to lower the cost of space travel.

So through the involvement of private enterprise and the competition this brings the cost of space travel may be lowered to a price tag that some say will be the same as purchasing an airline ticket today within the next 10 years. If space travel is commercialised it will create a whole new world of technology innovation above and beyond just the development of rocket engines, and you will have to think this is where those who do not want to travel to space will benefit.

The question now is whether the “space cadet” could be the catalyst to our next big technology revolution. If so then maybe everyone soon will aspire to be called a “space cadet”?


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