S(pace)aaS: The Future of On-Orbit Technologies
I had the great fortune of visiting the International Space Station Research & Development Conference in San Francisco this week . The week focused on the promise and future that space offered in the realm of technology advancement. This ranged from space mining of rare earth materials all the way to privatized space stations for leisure and astronaut training. However, by far the most intriguing conversation came way of Lexington, KY and Space Tango. Space Tango seeks to leverage the unique physical properties offered by space to initiate a new manufacturing revolution. In their pitch they explain how this sort of new paradigm has happened many times before. Beginning in the 1200’s with magnetism and moving through other developments such as vacuum technology, and most recently wavelength manipulation to enable the internet and cellular explosions. Space Tango sees the microgravity properties of on-orbit manufacturing in the same vein. Just a few of the unique applications so far include :
- Fiber Optic Cable: Microgravity allows for fiber components to settle at consistent rate allowing purer, controlled crystal formation.
- Retinal Implants: Gravity interferes with the homogeneity of protein layers, however, Multi-layer films in microgravity yield consistency across implant
- Biological growth: many plants for different genetic bods when germinated in microgravity. This enabled unique properties that are presumed to have significant impacts to the pharmaceutical industry.
Beyond microgravity, the lack of atmospheric properties in space has significant implications for the future of quantum computing. As we learned from Jeff Welser in lecture, one of the greatest challenges currently for quantum computing is the maintaining of quantum decoherence. Such applications in space can make use of the void to potentially greatly extend the current reaches of operational time. While large challenges still exist with respect to the necessary radiation shielding, the promise of space based quantum computing is alluring .
Made in Space is another company changing the way on-orbit manufacturing takes place. But rather than sending their products back to earth, their focus is on creating a sustainable supply chain for the ISS and larger scale space colonization . One the huge challenges facing further space structures is the cost of flying materials in the final form into orbit. Made In Space challenges that assumption and is seeking to make additive manufacturing the standard means to develop space systems. This requires highly specialized and calibrated means of production that themselves are very impressive technology not to mention the incredible structures they create.
Software as a Service totally redefined the means through which companies could interact with the digital domain. I would say after my week at the ISSR&D conference Space as a Service is doing the same. Whether is flying sand into orbit and having perfectly pure fiber iotice cable return, or printing the next space station on the ISS, there is great promise in the future of technologies developed on-orbit.
 Issconference.org. (2018). ISSR&D Conference | San Francisco, July 23-26, 2018. [online] Available at: https://www.issconference.org/ [Accessed 27 Jul. 2018].
 Space Tango. (2018). Space Tango | TangoLab. [online] Available at: https://spacetango.com/tangolab/ [Accessed 27 Jul. 2018].
 The National Interest. (2018). Quantum Computing and the New Space Race. [online] Available at: https://nationalinterest.org/feature/quantum-computing-the-new-space-race-26349 [Accessed 27 Jul. 2018].
 Made In Space. (2018). Large Space Structures. [online] Available at: http://madeinspace.us/archinaut/ [Accessed 27 Jul. 2018].
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