TED 2019: The start-ups launching in space | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

21 May, Tuesday


TED 2019: The start-ups launching in space

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Peter Beck is a space entrepreneur with a rocket and launch pad in New Zealand that has permission for flights "every 72 hours for the next 30 years".

The 25 satellites his firm Rocket Lab has launched include one from a US high school, which designed a spacecraft to measure the atmosphere of Jupiter.

Mr Beck has no plans for human cargo and he does not want to go to space.

"I'm the chief engineer of a rocket company. I know every little thing that can go wrong," he said.

Mr Beck spoke at the TED conference in Vancouver, where space has been a hot topic. There are at least two female astronauts on the delegates lists - including one who took her watercolour set to the International Space Station "to pass the time".

TED attracts tech billionaires who could afford to become space tourists, but Mr Beck has his eyes on another prize.

"We have a fundamental policy that we will not fly meat," he told the BBC. Instead his firm is concentrating on delivering small satellites from both the commercial and government sectors into orbit.

The Space Foundation has forecast that the international space industry will be worth $720bn (£552bn) by 2030, with much of the growth coming from launching satellites.

"Satellites used to be the size of school buses, but now they have shrunk to the size of microwaves and that creates a need for small rockets to launch them," said Mr Beck.

It costs around $7m to launch Rocket Lab's Electron rocket from its base in New Zealand.

So far, it has completed five missions to deliver different payloads to specific orbits. Its most recent was for the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).

While Rocket Lab is already launching rockets, many other firms are vying to compete, including Virgin Orbit, a sister company to Richard Branson's passenger rocket.

BBC

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