People think the Space Age ended in the early 1970s with the last Apollo mission. But space has remained a part of our lives, perhaps even more so than when NASA was sending men to the Moon. Cable TV, weather forecasting, and the internet, for example, depend on communications satellites in orbit. And the vertical conveyors that transport goods and materials within existing structures will have applications in space.
Space industry will become increasingly important for accessing and transportation of materials. Private companies such as Space X, Arianespace, Orbital Science, and Sierra Nevada Corporation will lead the way. They’ll move food, supplies, and staff to the people living and working in space. And they’ll use variations on the logistics management and vertical conveyors used today by companies like Verticon, LLC that are now used on Earth to lift loads of up to 500 pounds between levels of an existing structure. Industries like these will advance and improve to take their place in vital work that will be done off Earth.
Today’s industries will have to take the long view of the possibilities of tomorrow. The Solar System beyond Earth offers vast resources on other planets and moons, and especially in the asteroid belt, where valuable and precious materials are waiting to be harvested for use.
The logistics of delivering personnel, materials, and supplies from place to place in Earth’s orbit, on the Moon, and elsewhere in space will be complicated, but human ingenuity will work it out. In fact the brainstorming of these logistical processes has already begun at places like MIT, with its Interplanetary Supply Chain Management and Logistics Architectures (IPSCM&LA), which is aimed at sustainable space exploration from Earth to the Moon and as far out as Mars. Where government-funded space initiatives left off after Apollo, business will take up the slack and continue the push of humanity out to the “final frontier.”