NASA’s “The Future of Space” video featured NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine speaking about the return to the Moon or as he likes to refer to it, going forward to the Moon. In his presentation, Bridenstine stressed the fact that you don’t have to be a scientist or an engineer to contribute to the space program. The space program requires people from every background to succeed. We need accountants, psychologists, architects, computer programmers, graphic designers, technicians, and so much more. Just about any background you can think of has the ability to contribute to getting humanity back to the Moon, to Mars, and beyond.
Although many do not realize it, space exploration affects us all. The space program paved the way for microprocessors which made smart phones a reality. GPS and weather satellites allow modern society to function smoothly. It revolutionized modern medicine, gave us wireless headphones, running shoes, memory foam, and so much more. These technologies are important, but they are part of the old way of viewing outer space. It is often thought of as an inactive domain whose only purpose is to support daily life on the surface of the Earth and maybe make a few scientific discoveries on the side.
We now have billionaires, visionaries and startup companies who see not just what space is, but more importantly, what it could be. Visions of outer space tourism and hotels, manufacturing plants in orbit, asteroid mining, Moon bases, and even colonies on Mars. This is the future that you could be a part of. As the space industry becomes more commercialized, the work force supporting it will need to diversify. As more and more people live and work in orbit and beyond, there is the potential for all facets of life on Earth to be a part of life in space.
My own journey to become part of the future of space isn’t all that groundbreaking. An interest in space turned into a hobby. Then an engineering degree turned it into a career. However, there are tons of people who are breaking the mold. Take Hans Uy for example, an investment banker who in his free time, blogs about space and runs some excellent social media pages. I was able to get his view on how someone with a finance degree can help us get up to orbit.
I’ve loved all things outer space for as long as I can remember – I spent all my free time in kindergarten drawing crayon rockets and memorizing every esoteric space fact I could find. So why, I’m so often asked now, didn’t I pursue engineering in college to become an astronaut or rocket scientist? Why on earth did I become an investment banker?! Well… something about finance always seemed to call to me; I wanted to understand business operations, to learn how innovative companies deploy scarce resources and motivate their workforce to generate wealth for society. And maybe, just maybe, I could apply those skills to the space industry somewhere along the way.
Here’s the big question for me, the one I want to spend my career answering: “Why don’t we already have millions of people living in space, or active Moon or Mars colonies?” It’s not a question of engineering – most of the necessary technology is within our grasp. It’s a question of money – space exploration is expensive! So we need people who understand the unit economics of rocket launches, who can define the total addressable market of lunar payload deliveries, then go out and capture that market. We need people who can quantify the massive return on investment space exploration can provide our planet, then go out and sell that story to raise the investor capital needed to make it happen. The path to the stars will leverage more than just our sharpest engineering minds. It’ll be a collective effort of all humanity, investment bankers included!
Let me put it this way: the engineers will debate endlessly what the best rocket fuel is – liquid hydrogen, liquid methane, RP-1 kerosene, etc. We finance people know the answer already… the best rocket fuel is cash!
Hans Uy runs Astronomical Returns. You can check out his Instagram @astronomical_returns and his website www.astronomicalreturns.com
If you’ve always been a space fan, you can turn that passion into a career no matter what your job history is. Find a space company and apply for a position or apply to work at a government space program. Do you have a groundbreaking idea? Start a space company. Invest in space companies. Lobby with your local politicians to get funding for space programs. Educate your friends and family about why we need space exploration. Remember, when it comes to outer space, there’s just space for everyone.