A really important aspect of any public outreach work that Exodus does is helping to normalise the space industry as something real and tangible that can be invested in, provide valuable outcomes and jobs to “ordinary” people. We’re helping to communicate the important message that if you work in the space ecosystem, you no longer have to fit into the mould of “the right stuff” Apollo astronauts and rocket scientists in order to participate. We all use the internet, GPS, weather and other satellite-provided services, so we all have useful feedback to give as to how these services can be better.
Take the exciting recent announcement of a further $150 million being allocated to the Australian space Agency – funds that will help Australian companies participate in NASA’s Artemis program that will return humankind to the moon. Maybe this will build on Australia’s mining & remote operations experience, our business innovation sector, our world-class scientific researchers, or all of the above, but you can bet that this will have massive knock-on effects throughout the economy and our society more broadly. The aim is to triple the size of the Australian space sector to $12 billion and create around 20,000 extra jobs by 2030. Those aren’t all going to be high tech jobs, but it is important that people have a better intuitive feel for some of the quirks of working in the space environment.
It was great to talk to students at the Bloom WA entrepreneurial hub about what Exodus is doing to solve the Space debris problem, as well as Mike’s personal entrepreneurial journey, including what we learn’t from our recent trip to London Tech Week with Startup Catalyst. We started with a video of the well known game and space-simulator, Kerbal Space Program, showing a replay of the test Mike (yours truly) gave himself years ago when deciding to switch fields and join the new space industry. Did I understand (at least in theory), how we landed men on the moon, and returned them to the Earth safely?
If you can do this in Kerbal Space Program – I recommend this test to anyone interested in improving their knowledge about space – then you understand many of the issues of operating in space, even if – like us – you only plan to work on the rocket payloads. Exodus might have no plan to design or operate rockets, but we will certainly need to have a good understanding of those requirements. Narrating this video I was able to talk about the need to use rockets in stages (the parts of the rocket that get used up, then break off and fall away), and how – simply by the nature of what is required to get to space – this has created a significant amount of space debris all by itself.
Another important aspect demonstrated was how using simulators like drives the development of an intuitive understanding of orbital dynamics – since nothing in space moves in straight lines – and also how to make two objects meet in space at a given time and place. It is this understanding that led to Exodus’ Kinetic Solution for Space Debris (KiSSD), which is different from other space debris removal methods in that we have no plans to match speeds with each piece of debris – a process which requires extra propellent and inhibits the scalability of the debris removal process. Understanding how to remove space debris kinetically with a low speed flyby (~200m/s) whilst still taking care not to fragment the debris, is a key aspect of the method, and the basis of why we think we will be able to leapfrog the competition in the growing space debris removal market.
Lastly, it was great fun to be invited to speak with Jon Lewis on 6PR radio, who invited me onto the show to talk about space debris for his late-night audience, and answer a few questions from his listeners. Always a breath of fresh air to talk to, Jon is doing some great work helping people to think about topics that might not normally come up. We might be up to our eyeballs in planning and applications, but we’re always happy to come talk to an interested audience, and there are a few more engagements coming up, so contact us if you’d like to know more.