Israel is home to a startup known as SpacePharma. One of many private autonomous “space labs” performing experiments for paying clients such as pharmaceutical firms, universities, and chemical companies. They represent the new frontier of space exploration and research. NASA, an enormous but slow-moving government agency no longer holds a monopoly. The sector has been commercialized, allowing the presence of large aerospace companies like SpaceX and Boeing, but also smaller startups who wish to exploit the increasingly cheaper access to space.

SpacePharma is focused on one emerging aspect of the space industry: microgravity experimentation . 

One  of the main services this startup offers is the ability to run tests in a situation that is currently impossible to replicate on Earth– a zero gravity, or a nearly zero gravity, environment. Without gravity, an unavoidable constant that has forever restricted every experiment, a new field of science is breaking ground . 

In other news, for a long time Elon Musk has promised a constellation of thousands of satellites, dubbed Starlink. Musk hopes these satellites will one day handle half of all internet traffic—and generate billions in revenue for access fees. Tis is one way he hopes to fund his future Mars endeavours. SpaceX announced that two demonstration satellites they built and launched earlier in 2018 already show that internet from space can be just as efficient as people expect from cables on Earth.

Currently, a SpaceX rocket is set to launch a raft of internet satellites from a variety of startups—except this time, the target audience is machines . In a historic launch scheduled for Wednesday, SpaceX will hoist 64 satellites at once, the largest number for a single mission on US ground. Eight of the satellites on board a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base will be from companies hoping to build a truly global Internet of Things (IoT) via the transformation of satellite communications.

Lastly, the Clementine spacecraft, deployed from Vandenberg Air Force Base on January 25, 1994. It began as a Department of Defence project. Its miniaturized sensors had been developed for President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative (dubbed “Star Wars”) to identify and track missiles but, with NASA involvement, it also proved valuable to science.

The science component of the Clementine project was to analyze the moon’s mineral composition and that of the near-Earth asteroid 1620 Geographos. However, an onboard computer glitch stopped the asteroid flyby.

The spacecraft resulted in the first global topographic map of the moon and represents a 1990s idea of “faster, better, cheaper” space exploration. It took only two years to build and the probe cost less than $80 million, about one-fifth the price of a traditional space probe mission. Part of Clementine’s purpose was to assess the performance of commercial, off-the-shelf computers and software in space.

Do you think microgravity experimentation will lead to innovative breakthroughs here on Earth? How do you think the results of these experiments could help us colonize space?

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