From students to space entrepreneurs

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From students to space entrepreneurs

Space Satellite

photo (cropped) iStock.com/forplayday

For centuries, space travel has captured the imagination of people around the world. But as the Mars Perseverance Rover landed on the red planet earlier in February, we all received an important reminder that space exploration is likely to revolutionise the world of business education.

This revolution may not take place in the next few years, but in the decades to come, the commercial strength of the space industry will be one that business professionals, and the next generation of entrepreneurs, can’t ignore.

Just prior to the Rover’s successful landing, NASA published an article exploring spinoffs from previous Mars expeditions. Since sending the first space probes to the planet in the 1960s, technological advances made possible by Mars missions have helped to create many new solutions on Earth, including wind power turbines, methane detectors, self driving cars, and even methods for brewing beer.

As the article notes, “NASA has a long history of transferring technology to the private sector”. But increasingly, private enterprise is also itself driving the development of the space sector. Firms like Spacex, Boeing and even Richard Branson’s Virgin have all played a part in the industry’s growth.

According to financial firm Morgan Stanley, the global space industry could be worth more than $1 trillion USD by 2040.

In the UK, the establishment of Spaceport Cornwall, which is due to launch its first satellites from British soil in 2022, has also shown that the sector’s development will play a key role in drawing investment and commercial growth to regions as well as nations.

All of this growth means that students studying business management could literally be pioneers of an industry which was once thought of as science fiction. As low earth orbit space travel becomes the domain of private enterprise, our students today could be tomorrow’s space entrepreneurs.

It’s a future that may seem distant, but one which is important to be aware of now. Giving students the skills they need, not only to start and run a business, but to tackle the challenges faced by industries like the space sector, will ensure that when the time comes, they are ready. It’s a goal that all of us in the education world should aim for.

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