How does en­trepreneur­ship lend it­self to space ex­plo­ration?


Business First - - CONTENTS - Fed­erico Re is an En­tre­pre­neur­ial Coach and founder of cre­ativeen­

I’ve al­ways been fas­ci­nated about space ex­plo­ration, and sci­ence fic­tion movies like

2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, and even the orig­i­nal Star Wars tril­ogy. As a child, trav­el­ling into dis­tant space, dis­cov­er­ing new plan­ets, ex­plor­ing new fron­tiers and ex­trater­res­trial pos­si­bil­i­ties, and never re­turn­ing back to Earth was a vi­sion that has al­ways in­spired me writes Fed­erico Re.

T hese mem­o­ries were brought back to life just re­cently when I had the exclusive op­por­tu­nity to meet two Aussie as­tro­naut can­di­dates for the

‘Mars One’ mis­sion, on a Google Hang­out. I was joined by Dianne McGrath and Josh Richards, and to­gether we ex­plored the def­i­ni­tion of ‘Astro­preneur­ship’, and how this new-age term is ap­pli­ca­ble to the space in­dus­try and to en­trepreneur­ship.

The Space En­trepreneurs

Mars One is now plan­ning to take the first four hu­mans to Mars in 2026, on a non-re­turn flight. Dianne and Josh were short­listed as favourites amongst over 200,000 ap­pli­cants world­wide, as a re­sult of their dis­tinct skillset, phi­los­o­phy to life, and en­tre­pre­neur­ial pur­suits.

The global space in­dus­try is cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ac­cel­er­ated growth and has ex­panded by more than 50% over the past 10 years, ac­cord­ing to Space Foun­da­tion in Colorado Springs. The ma­jor­ity of such growth hinges around com­mer­cial en­deav­ours from the pri­vate sec­tor, led by se­rial ‘space’ en­trepreneurs like Richard Bran­son ( Vir­gin Galac­tic), Elon Musk ( SpaceX), Robert Bigelow ( Bi

gelow Aero­space), Bob Richards ( Moon Ex­press), and Paul Allen ( Vul­can Aero­space).

Es­sen­tially, more peo­ple are de­sir­ing to go to space, and has so far at­tracted celebri­ties like Leonardo Di­Caprio and Lady Gaga, each will­ing to fork out $250,000 for a ticket into space for just 2 hours!

Gone are the days, where space ex­plo­ration is solely reliant on NASA and govern­ment fund­ing. En­trepreneurs are now in charge, and pri­vate in­vestors are join­ing the ‘space race’, and ex­plor­ing new com­mer­cial ven­tures like zero-grav­ity tourism, satel­lite and soft­ware de­vel­op­ment, and space ex­plo­ration on a scale never seen be­fore.

As­tro­naut or Astro­preneur?

Dur­ing my Google Hang­out in­ter­view, I was cu­ri­ous to un­der­stand Dianne’s per­spec­tive on the term ‘astro­preneur’ and its rel­e­vance in her pro­fes­sion.

Dianne is an ad­ven­tur­ist, with a strong phi­los­o­phy in sus­tain­abil­ity, and is cur­rently un­der­tak­ing a PhD in food waste. Ac­cord­ing to Dianne, the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor be­tween an as­tro­naut and astro­preneur is ‘risk tak­ing’, ‘ex­plor­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties’, ‘agility’, ‘prob­lem solv­ing’, and ‘trust’. Putting this into a busi­ness con­text within the space in­dus­try, Dianne firmly be­lieves that com­mer­cial en­ter­prises en­ter­ing the space mar­ket, need to be more ag­ile, take greater risks, and col­lab­o­rate with other 3rd party or­gan­i­sa­tions to se­cure new op­por­tu­ni­ties and re­main highly com­pet­i­tive.

On the other hand Josh, a fu­tur­ist and en­gi­neer, be­lieves that an as­tro­naut or astro­preneur car­ries dis­tinct traits like ‘flex­i­bil­ity’, ‘re­silience’, ‘hav­ing a larger per­spec­tive’, and pos­sess­ing a ‘strong vi­sion’. Josh’s phi­los­o­phy to achiev­ing suc­cess as an as­pir­ing as­tro­naut hinges around ‘the rule of thirds’. Es­sen­tially, one third of peo­ple will be scep­tic, one third will be in­dif­fer­ent, and one-third will love what you are striv­ing to­wards and will sup­port you no mat­ter what. The key is to col­lab­o­rate with the ‘right’ type of peo­ple who share the same vi­sion.

Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion:

The com­mon thread be­tween en­trepreneur­ship and space ex­plo­ration is tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion. There is no doubt that suc­cess in ei­ther in­dus­try or pro­fes­sion hinges around these two crit­i­cal in­gre­di­ents. Easy ac­cess to tech­nol­ogy is al­low­ing the in­dus­try to ac­cel­er­ate with re­gards to re­search, in­no­va­tion, and col­lab­o­ra­tion, and has been fu­elled by the ‘start-up’ risk-tak­ing cul­ture of Sil­i­con Val­ley.

Space en­trepreneur­ship re­quires a lot of im­pro­vi­sa­tion and move­ment. For this rea­son, Space Tango was de­vel­oped to en­cour­age hu­man­ity to think dif­fer­ently about space. It pro­vides en­trepreneurs, sci­en­tists and engi­neers ef­fec­tive ways of work­ing to­gether and col­lab­o­rat­ing on the same space project, whether it’s about launch­ing a new satel­lite, cre­at­ing a new food waste man­age­ment sys­tem for as­tro­nauts, or build­ing the next rocket to Mars.

A mix of pas­sion, en­trepreneuri­al­ism, and out­side the square think­ing, en­abled Aussie en­tre­pre­neur Briam Lim to de­velop DeltaV Space­hub and Think N’

Tinker. His en­tre­pre­neur­ial ven­tures are space in­dus­try ac­cel­er­a­tors, and col­lab­o­rate with start-ups within the space in­dus­try in Aus­tralia. Brian’s ul­ti­mate goal is to fur­ther ad­vance Aus­tralia’s in­volve­ment in the space in­dus­try.

A fancy new word?

Com­ing back to the word ‘astro­preneur­ship’, I be­lieve this new-age term de­serves the recog­ni­tion and ac­knowl­edge­ment from within the busi­ness and space sec­tors, as well as from lin­guists or schol­ars. A so­lu­tion to this sim­ple prob­lem, would be to in­clude this new word in the dic­tio­nary and ac­knowl­edg­ing that such a pro­fes­sion or in­dus­try ac­tu­ally ex­ists. I am per­plexed that the Ox­ford dic­tio­nary has still not taken this step.

In the fi­nal chap­ter of my in­ter­view with Dianne and Josh, what was re­vealed is that the use of the acro­nym ‘preneur’ might ac­tu­ally sig­nify or im­ply some­thing that is ‘ex­cit­ing’, ‘in­no­va­tive’, and ‘tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced’. When it comes to es­tab­lish­ing a hu­man set­tle­ment on Mars, I can­not think of any­thing more rel­e­vant or crit­i­cal.

There is no doubt that en­trepreneur­ship and space ex­plo­ration is here to stay. The con­tin­ued in­fu­sion of these two sec­tors will pro­vide hu­man­ity end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties, mak­ing clas­sic movies like Star Trek no longer sci­ence fic­tion but a new re­al­ity for hu­man civil­i­sa­tion.

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