The new space race – Fast Forward audio doc

One thing has changed space exploration more than anything else, says future tech audio series Fast Forward

We've come a long way from the days of the first satellite, Sputnik, and the first human footprint on the Moon. Space is now our second home. But we've also reached a turning point in how we're exploring space. 'Old space' was about national and ideological rivalries. 'New space' is about investment and expanding businesses.


Listen to the full Fast Forward episode 6 on tech in the new space race

Space tech becomes a respectable investment

Professor Chris Welch, astronautics and space engineer at the International Space University in Strasburg thinks the shift in focus for space exploration is crucial. "Space has become a respectable place to invest money. People have seen the space sector has kept growing despite economic ups and downs.

"Technology has also transformed. New space has smaller satellites and spacecraft, and is product-based." Professor Welch talks about how having access to more funding means space businesses can take more risks, which is good news for tech. Industries on the side of space exploration – like those using satellite data – are growing at light speed.

Adapting space law for business

All this space business growth has brought with it a need to reconsider the laws of space. Assistant professor Tanja Masson-Zwaan specializes in Space Law at University of Leiden and thinks it comes back to the 'old space' versus 'new space' evolution.

"Space law has, for about 50 years, been based on states as actors. With companies becoming involved and maybe becoming the main actors, a whole new ball game is emerging." Masson-Zwaan explains the rules of the new space ball game in this episode of Fast Forward.

Sky-high cybercrime

On the subject of all things legal, Kaspersky Principal Security Researcher David Emm sees ample potential for cybermischief in space. Whether jamming GPS signals to try and effect missile guidance systems or hijacking satellite communications, cybercriminals flock to high-profile events when the world is watching, and space ticks all the boxes.

We shouldn't discount the potential of disrupting what's happening in space as a way to cause havoc on Earth either, such as damaging infrastructure like water and transport that increasingly relies on satellites.

His advice? "A crucial thing that always needs to be analyzed is, what needs to be connected and what doesn't? Part of that is risk assessment."

Welcoming astronauts of all genders

Future space safety will mean making sure we have the best minds on board. One way new space can do better is by finding and developing those with the most potential.

Rocket Women aims to empower more girls to follow careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM.) Although most probably still picture a man in response to the word 'astronaut,' Rocket Women highlights women have always been part of the space race.

Listen to Fast Forward episode 6 to hear Rocket Women founder Vinita Marwaha Madill on some of the barriers women face in the career, and what Rocket Women is doing to help shift them.

Listen to Fast Forward and explore more interviews with featured experts.Subscribe to future episodes on these audio streaming services:

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