Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Business of Space Exploration

“The (10-year old) Angkasawan programme is a long-term research and development (R&D) project by the government in the global race to master future technologies, which have and will likely continue to create highly lucrative commercial uses in many industries ranging from medicine to cosmetics and even entertainment.”

Major “Angkasawan Kedua” Dr Faiz Khaleed (and a Russian-born colleague Said Saidov) summed it up quite nicely for us to understand what space exploration is all about in the Malaysian Insider interview.

In a single word: Money.

Look at it this way: why do we even need to send a human to space, when a functional robot would be an even better bet in collecting data?

The moon is barren; Mars is way too far for mankind to explore as of now (and probably just as barren as the moon).

Hell, we can appreciate space and all its marvels in the comforts of our home; and our children still be piqued to study the sciences behind all those rockets sent off and satellites orbiting the earth.

The US does it as it wanted to be the first – especially since Russia (as she was before) was also keen to be the first.

So space exploration was about one-upmanship between the two.

There is another reason: Star Wars.

The same technology that sends our good old Angkasawan into space is also the one powering all those ICBMs lying idle all over the world.

And what one has, the other needs to also have.

There is much moollah to be made in the space tech industry, especially with Governments' amongst your main clients.

Now that Russia is but a very pale shadow of itself, its space experiences come in handy in the (ahem) public/private space-exploration-venture business.

Pardon the overly clunky term.

Dr Faiz mentioned the nicer things that have filtered down to us: the thumbdrive (really?) and carbon fibres for cars and computers.

I wish he talked more like a comic geek: of fantastical things like space travel, time warping, teleportation, space hibernation, etc.

Science is dry, but fantasy is not, good Dr.

MInsider said Dr Faiz was pretty nonchalant on the whole “Space Tourists” labeling of him and Datuk Dr Sheikh “Angkasawan Pertama” Muszaphar Shukor.

If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t be too concerned either.

It would be a dream trip, in fact, if I'm young and single.

To be Buck Rogers, Luke Skywalker, Flash Gordon again.

The good of mankind?

Right.. Right.. Good of mankind. Check.

Alpha Flight's Vindicator

Heather Hudson

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