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    Opinions'We are looking at flying an Indian into space'

    ‘We are looking at flying an Indian into space’

    Date:

    By VAIHAYASI PANDE DANIEL

    ‘It's vital that over the next 10 years, that , the US and the Artemis Accords family of nations come together to ensure that we not only return humanity to the moon, but that we build the that will allow us stay there permanently.'

    ‘And then go on to Mars.'

    Probably the loudest whoops of joy came from Mike Gold in Washington DC, the moment Chandrayaan-3 landed on the south pole of the moon at 18.04 IST on August 23 this year.

    Gold is a huge cheerleader for India and its amazingly conducted successes in space.

    The chief growth officer at Redwire, a leading private US company developing space infrastructure for a projected future space , Gold spent several years working at NASA before that.

    His last posting with the American space agency was as their associate administrator for space policy and partnership and he therefore has experience in working in both the private and civil sectors of the space industry.

    Gold, who worked with India on signing the Artemis Accords*, is a keen and optimistic observer of our country's progress in this sphere, because he feels India and ISRO open a new window to how to operate in space.

    “I'm even more excited what the will be like when Indian know-how, Indian capabilities and Indian systems come into the commercial space environment for the benefit of all,” Gold tells Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com.

     

    What was your personal experience of working with India in signing the Artemis Accords*? What was difficult and what was wonderful?

    Yes, so, previously, it had been challenging dealing with India, because of the bureaucracy. And Prime Minister Modi has done a great thing for the country, and the world, by modernising, reviewing and revising the rules surrounding commercial space activities in India.

    There's been a great shift to reduce red tape, to reduce bureaucracy, and to embrace a norms behavior, a system of values and the Artemis Accords.

    That is important not just for India and the United States, but to pre-empt any conflict on the moon, to establish that we are going to conduct ourselves as humanity on the moon, in a fashion that benefits us all.

    And I greatly appreciate India now, not only leading in technology, but leading in policy, to create a better future for all of humanity to enjoy, by supporting the critical values of the Artemis Accords.

     

    You have moved from working with NASA into a company that is a private player working on space exploration and missions. Watching more and more private players working on space missions sometimes makes one feel uneasy.

    Is having private players moving in the arena of space missions as safe as government-run missions?

    The private sector has always supported space missions. NASA, when it came to the Apollo missions and the lunar lander, that was done by companies like Grumman. No one should be afraid of how commercial companies conduct themselves in space.

    The private sector will be able to bring affordability, innovation, flexibility, diversity, new ideas, in a way that government entities inherently can't.

    That being said, the government brings funding and decades of knowledge. And customers are critical to the success of commercial space.

    My experience is that successes are built upon when the private sector and government are working together — we're both stronger together. That's how the American commercial space sector was built.

    And I think India is just at the beginning of that journey, and Chandrayaan-3 demonstrates Indian capabilities, and I'm thrilled for the success of the system.

    Candidly, I'm even more excited what the world will be like when Indian know-how, Indian capabilities and Indian systems come into the commercial space environment for the benefit of all.

     

    What are the milestones that you one can expect in space achievement, imminently, or even in the next few years?

    Certainly, we're all looking forward to the expansion of human spaceflight and India flying its first citizen will be a tremendous moment for all of us around the world. Then there will be the transformation of lower orbit, from the exclusive purview of the government to the International Space Station, to private sector space stations.

    My company Redwire, just printed the first meniscus (‘C-shaped piece of tough, rubbery cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between the shinbone and the thighbone', according to the Mayo Clinic) ever in space.

    And we have a facility on the International Space Station, called the bio fabrication facility. And it allows us to print tissues. On the next SpaceX CRS-30, we'll be flying cardiovascular tissue, so that we can print heart tissue.

    We'll be looking at new drugs that we can develop in space that can be much more effective than what we have here on earth.

    I'm very excited to see these new commercial developments. Not only in the economic (sphere), but also (efforts to) reduce human suffering here on earth.

    When we go to space, we're not only going to learn incredible new discoveries about science and physics, but through new drugs, through being able to eventually print whole organs in space, we're going to be able to come back with these and make everyone's life on earth so much better.

    This is an area where I hope to collaborate with Indian pharmaceuticals, which is a huge industry in India. And it's an opportunity for economic development, and overall improvement of lives in India, in the US and throughout the world.

     

    What do you think about space travel? Do you think that it is something that we all should eventually, in our lifetime, be doing?

    (Laughs) So I don't know that space travel is going to be something that we will all be doing any time soon. Although I think there will be growing opportunities for suborbital and even orbital space tourism. Certainly, more people will have an opportunity to travel to space.

    But what will impact — many, if not eventually all of us here on earth — are the products that are developed in space. The meniscus is a great example. How many people need a meniscus? I would be first in line. And while you might not have someone who suffered a meniscus injury travel to space, now they'll get a new meniscus, from space, potentially organs from space, or they'll be taking a drug that was developed in space.

    I'd like to turn the question around a little bit, it's not necessarily that people would travel to space regularly, but products from space will be coming to them on earth, which could impact our lives far more than simply tourism or travel.

     

    What else could be on the cards? What are the things that that people like you are dreaming of that might happen in the next 10 years, apart from what you just mentioned, which is very interesting and very critical.

    It's important in the next 10 years, that humanity establishes a permanent presence on the moon. I have not lived long enough to see a replacement and a continuation of the Apollo Missions.

    It's been very unfortunate at NASA, that when it came to a sustainable beyond lower orbit human spaceflight programme, failure wasn't just an option, it was a certainty. In my lifetime, there hasn't been a return to the moon.

    It's vital that over the next 10 years, that free countries, such as India, the US and the Artemis Accords family of nations come together to ensure that we not only return humanity to the moon, but that we build the system, the technology that will allow us stay there permanently. And then go on to Mars.

    At Redwire, we're developing a system called Mason under contract with NASA, that will use microwave (emitters to heat and then use) regolith to create a landing pad, and to eventually build roads, and structures. And these are the kinds of technologies that we need in order to create a permanent presence on the moon, and then conduct the historic mission to Mars.

    We're thrilled to be doing that in cooperation with NASA at Redwire. And some of the data from Chandrayaan-3 will already be relevant for us, and for what we'd like to do in the future. So again, we're already grateful, and in many ways partnered with India, thanks to the full free and open release of scientific data that India is doing per their obligations under the Artemis Accords.

     

    *According to Nasa.gov, ‘Artemis Accords non-binding multilateral arrangement between the United States government and other world governments participating in the Artemis program, an American-led effort to return humans to the Moon by 2025, with the ultimate goal of expanding space exploration to Mars and beyond'.

     

     

     

    Northlines
    Northlines
    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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