As long as humans have gazed at the night sky, we’ve dreamed about what lies beyond our atmosphere. More recently, probes, satellites and space telescopes have sent back pictures and data from their explorations for Earthlings to study and enjoy. Yet, since the first human spaceflight more than 60 years ago, only a select few have had the opportunity to actually explore the final frontier. Space tourism aims to change that.
CNN recently profiled a Florida-based company called Space Perspective, which is developing an eco-friendly spaceship: Spaceship Neptune. The carbon-neutral, pressurized capsule suspends from a high-tech version of a hot air balloon that can take groups of eight passengers up to 100,000 feet for six-hour-total suborbital flights — for $125,000 a ticket, in case you were curious.
Instead of requiring high-energy rockets to blast off, the company uses buoyancy to defy gravity. The balloon is filled with hydrogen, which allows the craft to float on Earth’s atmosphere. In addition, it’s reusable, with the exception of the skin of the balloon, which can be recycled. These sustainability features are important, as a typical rocket launch releases 200-300 tons of carbon dioxide, as well as other chemicals and soot, into our already fragile atmosphere. In addition, heat from the fuels can add ozone to the troposphere, acting like greenhouse gases.
If successful, Spaceship Neptune could be one small step toward responsible space travel. In addition, supporting people in space — whether for scientific exploration or recreation — requires unique supply chains that can endure possibly the trickiest conditions we’ve witnessed yet, which were discussed on an episode of The Rebound podcast. It’s also likely that the solutions supply chain professionals find for the challenges associated with space could be applied to improve supply chains much more locally. Learning how to survive in an environment that lacks key resources; conserving air, water and food; growing crops in inhospitable environments; and responsibly managing waste are just a few of the potential takeaways.
The science behind innovation
As I noted last week, sustainability will be a key topic at our upcoming ASCM CONNECT Annual Conference. And now, I’m over the moon to announce the addition of a new keynote speaker, Dr. Mae Jemison. Jemison is a physician, engineer, social scientist, former NASA astronaut and leader of the 100 Year Starship® global space exploration initiative. The first woman of color to travel into space, she served six years as a NASA astronaut.
The 100 Year Starship® global space exploration initiative is a bold, far-reaching program, whose objective is to assure that capabilities exist for human travel beyond our solar system to another star within the next 100 years. Jemison is building a multifaceted global community to foster the cultural, scientific, social and technical commitment; support; and a financial framework to accomplish this vision.
On day two of conference, welcome Dr. Mae Jemison as she shares her passion and insight into how pursuing an extraordinary tomorrow builds a better world of opportunity, quality of life and equality today. We’re just L-minus 50 days and 20 hours (give or take an hour or two) until Chicago, so register today to make sure you’re go for launch.