Cover StoryCover Story
To Infinity and BeyondThe beginning of the space age and how we should prepare
Lee Kyung-chul  |  lkc724@yonsei.ac.kr
폰트키우기 폰트줄이기 프린트하기 메일보내기 신고하기
승인 2016.11.03  19:06:38
트위터 페이스북 구글 카카오스토리
   
▲ Source: allforwall.net
THESE DAYS, it seems that many people are curious about that ultimate unknown territory, outer space. Many movies such as Star Trek, Interstellar and The Martian, which depict a future society or the possibility of life on another planet, have become Hollywood blockbusters. With the popularity of such films, the desire for space exploration as well as space research is also growing. Currently, there are more than 1,000 satellites orbiting the earth. Information from these satellites has become an integral part of people’s daily lives. It allows people to communicate via mobile phones, watch sports broadcasts held in a foreign country, and even forecast the weather. In addition, on Sept. 15, 2016, China launched its second space laboratory, Tiangong-2, into space, which is a key part of the nation’s plan to establish a permanently manned space station by 2020. Furthermore, private space tours are predicted to become a commercial industry in the next few decades. Just 50 years ago, this would have been barely imaginable. How did space become such a big part of human’s activity?
 
 
   
 

Shifting theoretical paradigms

 

According to the British Dictionary, the space age indicates the period in which the exploration of space is possible. In other words, it is the time when space has come into human’s range of activities, including space exploration or space exploitation. The launch of Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite, by the Soviet Union is generally thought to mark the start of the space age. This launch, which took place on Oct. 4, 1957, brought humanity into the space and ushered a new era of political, scientific, and technological advancements.
The first era of the space age was defined by the race for military superiority between the United States and the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, the space industry grew rapidly as the two nations, with their competing ideologies, vied for supremacy. This era reached its peak with the Apollo program, which captured the desires of much of the world’s population to explore unknown territories. The landing of Apollo 11 was watched by over 500 million people around the world and was widely recognized as one of the defining moments of the 20th century.
After the Cold War, space began to be utilized for more diverse purposes. More countries started to participate in the space industry to pursue commercial interests. Currently, more than 50 countries including Vietnam, Nigeria, and Egypt have launched satellites into space. Additionally, the curiosity to discover an alternative planet where people can live is increasing as well. Movies which depict alternative planets have been a huge box-office success. According to the Korea Film Council, about five million of the South Korean population saw The Martian and more than ten million saw Interstellar.
There are mainly three paradigms in pursuing space development: exploration, pragmatism, and militarism. The exploration-centered paradigm began with von Braun who led the early space industry of the United States. He sketched a roadmap that became known as the “von Braun Paradigm” – a set of incremental steps that ought to be taken to gain access to space. In its simplest form, his plan consists of the following stages. First, humans have to develop a space rocket and space shuttle that can put man into orbit. Next, they should service a space station which would then be used to establish a lunar base. The final step is to ultimately foster a human mission to Mars. This paradigm held a powerful grip on NASA and became a key foundation of the current plans to explorethe Moon and mount a manned expedition to Mars. NASA was successful in realizing this paradigm. They launched the first U.S. satellite Explorer in 1961, led the success of the Apollo program from 1961 to 1972, and developed a space shuttle in 1986 and an international space station in 1998.
In 1972, the book Limits to Growth was published and had great influence throughout the world. It argued that if resource use, food production, and population continue to increase at the current rates, then, by the year 2100, the earth would face a catastrophic situation. In 1974, with this future crisis in mind, Gerald O’Neil, a U.S. physicist and space activist, asserted the practical necessity of space development. He proposed a paradigm shift from space exploration to space exploitation, emphasizing the need for research into utilizing resources in space and expanding the range of economic activities involving space.
Furthermore, O’Neil suggested two conditions for colonizing the space territory. According to his view, if an outer space territory were to be utilized as a colony, it should be self-sufficient for humans to live, providing water, food, air, and housing. Also, it should bring enough commercial benefit for people to make investments. Moreover, as the funding for space programs fell sharply after the Apollo program, he tried to prove that private institutes could develop space industries faster and easier, and established a private institute for space studies. Although his colonial perspective of the universe is not accepted today, his pragmatist view on spacehas continued to encourage the commercial exploitation of space. According to a survey by the Satellite Industry Association in 2014, the space industry market was estimated to be worth over $340 trillion in 2014. This includes activities such as satellite telecommunications, satellite manufacturing and Earth observation, which is still on the rise.
   
▲ Source: wordpress.com
The third paradigm is using space for military purposes. After the Second World War, nations proposed a peace treaty regarding the utilization of space. It was based on the need for a more strategic use of space which involves communication systems and satellite monitoring systems for information collection. This paradigm was reinforced by President Reagan with the implementation of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). With this shift in paradigm, the importance of outer space for military strategy and national security has come to the fore. In 2013, according to Profiles of Government Space Programs, $28.4 billion each year was spent worldwide for this purpose. Even today, the U.S. Department of Defense allocates billions of dollars to strengthen the space control program. Moreover, other countries such as India, Canada, France, Brazil, and North Korea have also operated military organizations that monitor outer space.
 
   
▲ Source: grumman.com
 

Unfolding the third era

 

While the competition between the Soviet Union and the United States to gain superiority of space development led the first era of the space age, the second era was accompanied by various efforts to benefit human life. People now utilize space for various purposes including operating the International Space Station (ISS) or establishing telecommunication satellite systems. The third era of space age will begin in earnest once people can gain easier access to outer space or can live on other planets.
Indeed, the third era of the space age is coming closer to becoming a reality. NASA officials shared their detailed plans to land humans on Mars within 15 years from now. “We are closer than we have ever been to humans stepping on Mars,” NASA’s deputy administrator, Dava Newman, said at the Smithsonian Conference in 2015. Also, NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to Mars by 2030. NASA and the U.S. aerospace company, Lockheed Martin, have already built a spacecraft called Orion that will take humans to Mars All of the missions in the next two decades are aimed to land humans on Mars in the 2030s.
The process of this challenge to Mars will be divided into three phases: Earth-dependent, proving ground, and Earth-independent. In other words, the journey to Mars will be prepared comprehensively from conducting researching while on Earth, testing supplies, and examining the environment on Mars. NASA will continue to test the effects of space on the human body and conduct experiments at the ISS. Astronaut Scott Kelly's year in space was an important part of this phase, since NASA plans to compare what he went through with his twin brother who stayed on Earth. In 2018, NASA plans to launch Orion into orbit with the new rocket system called the Space Launch System (SLS). The goal is to see if SLS works and how well Orion holds up to radiation in space. The spacecraft will be unmanned and the mission will last about three weeks. The space agency already successfully tested Orion in 2014. The next mission will consist of getting near the Moon and coming back to Earth, subjecting the spacecraft to harsher conditions.
The first crewed Orion mission is scheduled for 2023, when four astronauts will have the opportunity to test the spacecraft themselves. Additionally, before the mission in 2023, NASA is launching an unmanned mission called the Asteroid Redirect Mission. The spacecraft should arrive at a nearby asteroid and obtain a sample by 2018, then bring it into the Moon’s orbit by 2023 so the astronauts can study the rock. This mission is anticipated to help NASA figure out how humans and robots can work together on far-reaching space missions such as landing on Mars.
Additionally, a lunar outpost, which is an inhabited facility on the surface of the Moon, is scheduled to be constructed. This time, Russia and the United States have been working together in space, preparing to achieve each of their goals and focus on new projects. For NASA, that focus is getting humans on Mars by the 2030s, and the U.S. Space Agency has made it clear that it has no intention of returning to the Moon anytime soon. Yet, while NASA might not be interested specifically in the Moon, many of its plans for getting to Mars involve the area around the Moon. For example, NASA’s plan to land on Mars involves capturing an asteroid and putting it in orbit around the Moon, so that a crew on board the Orion spacecraft can explore it in the 2020s. Also, during the 2020s, NASA plans to test deep space habitats, possibly on the Moon, to better grasp how they will have to design habitats on the surface of Mars. This mission will take three years to complete and will hopefully be the first of many before settling permanently on Mars.
This accounts for why U.S. aeronautical enterprises such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin foresee demand for the establishment of a lunar base in the near future and have suggested the idea to NASA. And in order to execute this plan, companies have collaborated with Russian space contractors such as RKK Energia and GKNPTs Khrunichev to consult on the project, working together to build the first functioning lunar base. Like NASA, the goal for these companies isn’t necessarily the Moon itself, but to build a habitat around the Moon that would serve as a stop along the way to Mars. The Russians would bring the hardware – specifically, the know-how to build space modules that can house crews and contribute to propulsion. And the Americans will have access to the powerful SLS that NASA is developing for its mission to Mars. Once the Moon base is in place, the American and Russian companies say that it could be used to study not only the lunar surface, but also the asteroid that NASA is planning to drag into the Moon’s orbit. According to one proposal, astronauts and cosmonauts together could attempt a nearly 400-day mission on the surface of the Moon in the late 2020s to simulate a Martian expedition.
Lately, not only government organizations but also private enterprises have invested heavily in space projects. For example, Space X, which is a private rocket-manufacturing enterprise, has successfully developed a launch vehicle which is able to convey supplies to the ISS. Also, they developed a recyclable rocket, which will cut costs by a factor of ten, allowing the commercialization of space tours. Additionally, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the co-founders of Google, have invested heavily in space research such as the Moon exploration project and the space elevator project.
 
 
   
▲ Source: globalaviationaerospace.com

Becoming the major aerospace powerhouse

 

Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the United States has led the space industry with NASA. Recently, NASA has focused more on the research of deep space, while reducing the burden on the budget of other space industries. For example, NASA gave financial support to private enterprises for developing a manned spacecraft that would carry astronauts to the space station, under a program called the Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) program. Moreover, by easing regulations, the U.S. government induces other countries and enterprises to take part in space industries, especially the satellite industry. Originally, the satellite industry was strictly regulated, being classified as a military technique. Yet, in 2011, the U.S. government removed commercial satellites and related components from the United States Munitions List.
Compared to United States and the late Soviet Union, China embarked on the space industry relatively late in 1958. Yet the Chinese communist government developed the space program consistently and systemically. In fact, even in the Cultural Revolution period, which was the time of China's great recession, their research on space was never interrupted. As a result, China succeeded in developing a space launch vehicle using its own technology. Additionally, in 2011, the unmanned Shenzhou-8 succeeded in docking with the module of ISS, recording the third completed space docking in the world. Furthermore, China currently has plans to build an advanced space station in 2020 when the ISS is scheduled to terminate its operation.
Japan has recently sought to expand its space industry. In 2008, the Japanese government enacted the Fundamental Space Law which strategized a space industry as a national core business. Presently, it plans to expand its space industry to be more than two times larger by 2020. More specifically, Japan has focused on developing precision device techniques which are utilized in fundamental components of satellites. With these technologies, Japan has operated observation satellites such as Information Gathering Satellite (IGS) and Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS). Japan has promoted the development of various satellites, ranging from navigation satellites and environmental monitor satellites to astronomical satellites.
Meanwhile, South Korea also has been planning to develop its own technology that would enable spacecraft launches into space since 1996. As a result, Naro-ho project, the South Korean rocket project, was implemented in 2002. After two unsuccessful attempts, South Korea successfully launched its first space rocket KSLV-1 called Naro in 2013. However, the limitation of the first stage of KSLV-1 is the core technology of the rocket was developed by a Russian technique. Even today, South Korea still cannot assemble a space rocket on its own. Additionally, the South Korean government failed to adequately utilize the nation’s first astronaut Lee So-yeon’s experience in space. Rather than allowing her to concentrate on space research, Lee was forced to hold an excessive number of external lectures. According to a parliamentary inspection of the Administration in 2014, Lee had a total of 523 international activities from 2008 to 2012 including 235 external lectures and 203 press conferences.
Choi Nam-mi (Researcher, Space Policy Team, Korea Aerospace Research Institute) suggests in her research in 2012 that South Korea should find its own entrance for the space industry. To lay claim to the economic, technological, and societal benefits that space industry will bring, it is crucial to consider the next direction of South Korea’s space development plan. She also mentioned that South Korea needs to have a long-term plan and vision. The current space development promotion of South Korea is based on a five-year period, whereas space development usually requires more than five years. Additionally, sustained investment in the space industry should be guaranteed. Commercial space activities that are recently issued by advanced countries is based on steady investment in their space industry. However, South Korea has invested relatively less, accounting for 0.02% of its GDP, while the United States accounts for 0.3%, France 0.11%, and Japan 0.06%.
Lee Joon (Head, Space Policy Team, Korea Aerospace Research Institute) commented that “The space industry not only has lots of potential to create employment but is also anticipated to create more than 8 times of economic ripple effect per every dollar invested.” He also commented, “For the reinforcement of South Korea’s space industry, the government should ensure the ability to manufacture products through continuous promotion of the national space development project.” Additionally, the government should provide a standard model and platform which can attract the market around the world. South Korea should come up with an effective plan to collaborate with domestic enterprises as well. This would also correspond to the “creative economy,” which is the current administration’s policy motto to revitalize South Korea’s economy.
*                 *                 *

Before the plane was first invented, it was hard to imagine that anyone would be able to travel around the world by air. Today, we expect space travel by spaceship to one day become feasible for everyone. The space industry has continuously created new fields, such as space solar generation, space tourism or removal of space objects. Including space tourism, the space industry has high economic potential, even though not much research has been done into it. Also, while most industries in the global economy faced crisis due to the economic recession in 2008, space industries including satellite-related projects recorded an average annual growth rate of 9%. Taking advantage of this great opportunity, the South Korean government should show a leading paradigm of aerospace with a systematic plan and continuous investment in the space industry. 

폰트키우기 폰트줄이기 프린트하기 메일보내기 신고하기
트위터 페이스북 구글 카카오스토리 뒤로가기 위로가기
이 기사에 대한 댓글 이야기 (0)
자동등록방지용 코드를 입력하세요!   
확인
- 200자까지 쓰실 수 있습니다. (현재 0 byte / 최대 400byte)
- 욕설등 인신공격성 글은 삭제 합니다. [운영원칙]
이 기사에 대한 댓글 이야기 (0)