Space is no longer merely a field for the telecommunications, transportation and manufacturing årealising major human dreams in various areas including hunger eradication, food security, health care, climate control and agriculture
It’s hard to tell the history of space exploration in one article. However, it’s worth a try, especially in these times of ambition and hope, when we are hours away from Hope Probe reaching the orbit of Mars.
When observing the space explorations, one would notice two things; the tremendous and accelerating leaps that the last century has witnessed in the journey to discover space, and the increased intertwining between space science and earthly affairs.
For centuries, the sun and the other stars have been a source of inspiration, curiosity and dreams for people who had fantasies of being liberated from gravity and roaming freely in outer space. This dreamy relationship between man and space is what has come to be called the first generation of space science (Space 1.0). Mankind did not move to the next generation (Space 2.0) until the mid-20th century, when space became a domain for competition between major powers. At that time, there was a saying that will continue to echo to this day and beyond. It goes, “Whoever controls space, controls the world”.
In the 1990s, humanity entered the third generation of space science (Space 3.0), when man moved from visiting space to residing there in the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS has become a permanent lab roaming in space and inhabited by scientists from the United States of America, European countries, Canada and Japan.
Today, we are living in the fourth generation of space science (Space 4.0), which is inseparable from the Fourth Industrial Revolution with its major breakthroughs in the fields of digital transformation, artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of things, self-driving vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, quantum computing, blockchains, big data analysis, machine learning and others. The introduction of these “disruptive” technologies freed space science from the monopoly of major powers. Today, there are countries like Bolivia, Angola and Azerbaijan that have space programmes. Fourteen countries in Africa have ambitious space projects despite their rather unsteady financial capabilities.
What is the secret?
In the era of Space 4.0, space is no longer merely a field for the telecommunications, transportation and manufacturing sectors. It is a gateway to realising major human dreams in various areas including hunger eradication, food security, health care, climate control and agriculture.
The economic side
The strong involvement of the international business sector in space projects gives a sufficient indication of the feasibility and return on investment in space projects. Why else would companies like SpaceX, Amazon, Boeing, Orion Span, and Virgin Galactic invest billions in this field?
Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori is the Head of Digital Government and Director General, TRA
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