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A brief introduction to space economics

The future of the space program depends on the private market, it turns out that it also played a significant role in the past

The mars pathfinder spacecraft, the early edition of the mars rover
The mars pathfinder spacecraft, the early edition of the mars rover
Since the launch of the Russian Sputnik into orbit around a ball in Israel in 1959, we have witnessed important and ground-breaking developments in space exploration. This included the space race between the USA and the USSR, manned landings on the moon, flights to the planets and the landing of all-terrain vehicles on Mars, and recently the private sector began to show interest in this fascinating field. Space exploration requires huge financial investments, and disputes between NASA and the American government have often arisen regarding the necessity of various missions. Looking back and looking forward, a lot of thought must be invested in another area, which is space economy. How to intelligently manage those billions of dollars so that the space programs build the most scientific fruits and how to profit from it financially. During his visit to Israel, the director of NASA said that the space industry will have a greater part in future projects and that NASA will purchase launch services instead of components as it does today.

For this purpose, a distinction must be made between activities carried out prior to launch, and activities carried out during a space flight. Pre-launch activities include spacecraft development and launcher development. Activities carried out during the flight include plans to extend missions, save fuel and rotate satellites.

As for the activities that are done before the launch, it is necessary to examine which launcher is suitable for launching this or that spacecraft. If the spacecraft weighs 500 kg, a launcher with a payload of 5 tons will not be used. The launch costs will be extremely high, since such a launcher requires larger amounts of fuel. It would be appropriate to choose a small launch vehicle with a payload of 600 kg. If an American research institution wishes to launch a meteorological research satellite it can do so using one of the launchers developed by the American aerospace industries or using a launcher from another country. These services cost money and you have to enter the waiting list because the same entity that provides dispatch services, dispatches cargo from his own country and from other countries. A delay in dispatch may result in a later receipt of the requested research findings. The launch dates of the launch providers must therefore be examined prior to the launch. Another possibility is to join another party in the same launch. If any factor orders a launcher with a payload of 1.5 tons, since its spaceship weighs 900 kg, it is possible to join this launch and thus reduce launch costs. What is it similar to? For a person ordering a taxi to reach a certain destination. And if another person is also interested in this taxi, the price of the trip will be divided between them according to the travel distance between their destinations. Another option is to increase the load in the launcher using boosters. If any entity wishes to launch a payload weighing 700 kg and the available launcher has a payload of 600 kg, the possibility of attaching boosters to the launch vehicle should be examined. These accelerators by their nature are powered by solid fuel and are built in a modular format and it is possible to use different accelerators according to needs. The price of each accelerator must be examined and the added financial cost to realize this launch must be considered. And now a sub-field in space economics has appeared before our eyes and it is the pricing of launch services.

As for the spaceships themselves, different devices are often developed to carry out the designated goals. Is it necessary to develop new research instruments for each launch? Maybe we can use existing devices? This was done when NASA launched the Pathfinder to Mars. The method they chose is Out of the shelf. At NASA they took existing devices and "stitched" them together and the finished result proved itself. This all-terrain vehicle was supposed to operate on Mars for only one month and it operated for 3 months. The problem that may arise is that this approach will be overused. A delay in the development of new research instruments may develop. The appropriate balance must therefore be found between the use of existing technologies and the development of new technologies.

Another way to save costs is to use extremely long flight routes. When Mariner 10 was launched towards Mercury the gravity of Venus was used to shorten the duration of the flight. The flight lasted 5 months. On the other hand, the messenger that was also launched towards Mercury, was planned for a flight duration of 7 years, in order to put it into orbit around the planet. The only thing they did was two passes by Venus and one pass by Earth in order to speed up its speed. All this comes to save the spaceship's fuel for performing various maneuvers. But during those years of flight, teams must be activated to monitor the spacecraft's activities, and this also costs a lot of money. Which is better, an extremely long flight duration or shortening and freeing the tracking crew members for other tasks?

In some of the recent missions such as the Galileo that was launched to Jupiter, the Cassini that was launched to Saturn and two all-terrain vehicles operating on the ground of Mars, a certain life expectancy was set for each mission. To the researchers' surprise, these spacecraft operated in an exceptional manner and it was decided each time to extend the duration of their activity. The rationale behind these decisions is the following: the spacecraft is functioning and it is possible to extract additional scientific information from it far beyond what was planned. New programs are being planned for them, which otherwise would have required the preparation of new projects. It is likely that these projects would have been prepared anyway, but thanks to the extraordinary activity of spacecraft, new and valuable scientific information has been accumulated that can be used in future programs.

A new field that the Russians were the first to use is space tourism. People who are not astronauts and are not researchers in their training show interest in joining one of the flights. These are expensive flights, each of them costs 20 million dollars. There is no reason why the various space agencies should not enter into such ventures and thereby increase their budgets.

In the future, it will be possible to turn part of the space station into a garage. Astronauts will hunt down spaceships that are out of use, bring them to the space garage, disassemble them and use all those systems that are suitable for reuse. This will also mean a wise use of those parts of spacecraft that move around the earth.

Space economics is an essential field and it is necessary to start as early as possible in the construction of this discipline, including the theoretical basis. It is not impossible that there will soon be doctors and professors of space economics.

More of the topic in Hayadan:
Space Ltd

8 תגובות

  1. Adi, and why doesn't Israel launch commercial satellites to the east? That way there is no problem of secret technology being taken in case of failure and landing in a hostile country.

  2. Answer to Tal (1)
    Israel, unlike the rest of the world, launches its satellites "upside down", meaning that the whole world launches to the east
    To gain the momentum of the Earth's rotation and save a lot of energy.
    Israel cannot launch to the east, so it launches Leviathan to the west (which involves a lot of energy loss)
    It follows that Israel's satellites run around the earth in the opposite direction to the rest of the world's satellites
    This energy loss means economic inefficiency or a higher cost of launching cargo. and therefore to the extent possible
    Israel also launches commercial satellites from Bikaner or French Guinea to the east to save costs.

  3. An important article.
    How about "nailing" opening articles of this type to the main page, so that those who come here for the first or second or third time will have a place to start from?

  4. A space garage is a nice idea. First time I hear about him. It sounds like a very profitable field, instead of sending spaceships to distant orbits where they spin around without doing anything, they will pay space garages for "scrap" services. This way the space garages will be able to profit twice, once from removing bodies in orbit for the rest of their time and once from the useful spare parts of those bodies.

    On the face of it, the idea is nice, but sounds like something futuristic, maybe in 150 years.

  5. "The only thing they did was two passes by Venus and one pass by the Earth in order to accelerate its speed"

    Is it possible for once to get an explanation for the above-mentioned issue that comes up from time to time in articles on the website? I understand that the spaceship accelerates as it approaches the star, but equally the star's gravity slows it down as it moves further and further away from it... so that everything is offset in the end and supposedly its speed should not change rule as a result of the suit next to the star.

    So does it mean that the star helps the spacecraft to change its flight angle? It sounds a little more logical, but the term "acceleration" is used all the time, which usually refers to speed.

    I would be happy to explain.

    Thanks in advance.

  6. While reading the article, an interesting question popped up. If Israel has space launch capabilities, even if it's only to low orbit, why doesn't it provide space launch services like the Indians and Russians and make money from it?

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