Private space business extends beyond Earth orbit

Hope for the first ever fundedprivate landing on the moon collapsed last Thursday: Israeli spacecraft "Bereshit" crashed during the final decline. However, despite this disappointment, everything speaks of the beginning of a new stage in the exploration of private space beyond Earth orbit. The Israeli efforts were led by SpaceIL, a nonprofit organization that was created to participate in the Google contest of 30 million Lunar XPRIZE - it is being conducted to encourage private exploration of the Moon.

After several extensions, the competition was closed without announcing the winners last January, but SpaceIL continued to fulfill its mission independently.

Private companies want to moon

In the case of Bereshit, everything went smoothly untilThe main engine, designed to slow the decline of the vehicle for a soft landing, did not fail at the last minute. Communication was lost and the descent vehicle was supposed to crash, however, breaking an important milestone: it became the first private spacecraft to reach the lunar surface, albeit in parts.

Of course, he will not be the last of those. Former XPRIZE members - ispace, Astrobotic, PTScientists - all set to visit the moon in the near future. Their long-term goals include the creation of a permanent delivery service to the moon and ice mining, which could provide water, oxygen or hydrogen for other missions heading deep into the solar system.

All this suggests that the private spacethe industry is undergoing a significant shift - for the most part, it has been focused on satellites; recently, on the launch of these satellites into orbit along with the advent of companies such as SpaceX.

Collapsing LunarXPRIZE last year wasperceived by many as a signal that the vision of the commercialization of space exploration was impractical and that we are far from the sci-fi view of corporations colonizing space, like in films like Alien and Recall Everything.

But just a year later, Bereshit proved that manyDoubters were wrong. The mission was funded by a non-profit organization, but the fact that the cost of most projects led by the state amounts to only $ 100 million can make people reconsider some assumptions about the economic viability of space exploration.

Admittedly final failureBereshita emphasizes the risk of choosing faster and cheaper missions. However, this did not prevent NASA from selecting nine companies that will be competing for $ 2 billion contracts, sending small experiments to the moon over the next decade.

A series of newest asteroid missions can alsobecome the beginning of the rapid development of asteroids. The Japanese spacecraft "Hayabusa-2" fired several projectiles on Ryuga asteroid to understand what is under its surface, and plans to return the samples to Earth by the end of next year.

First American collection and return missionthe asteroid on Earth - OSIRIS-REx - is currently exploring the surface of its target, the asteroid Bennu, and plans to return 60 grams of rocks to the planet in late 2023.

The success of these missions could be a pledge foran industry that has been in a difficult situation since NASA canceled a plan to pull the asteroid closer to Earth and send astronauts to it to collect samples. Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources were the two leading pioneers in this field, but faced hard times and were bought. Moreover, Planetary Resources bought a company from the field of blockchain technologies.

Part of the problem of most commercialspace operations beyond the orbit of the earth is that they are highly dependent on government. Most companies want to either conduct experiments or supply resources — fuel and water — for more ambitious missions, but the only customers for these services are currently national space agencies.

This will change. SpaceX, which got rich on the first boom of commercial space, is now looking forward to implementing more ambitious projects in deep space. Although plans for the colonization of Mars will certainly be taken with distrust, the company quickly builds infrastructure, making such missions possible.

Just last week, the company successfully completed the first commercial launch of its heavy Falcon Heavy rocket and successfully landed all three stages for reuse in future missions.

Currently, the commercial industry is farspace needs an ecosystem that needs to support itself. The breakthroughs made by Bereshit and Falcon Heavy last week are the first encouraging signs that the private sector is heading out of orbit.

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