CES 2022 | Dream Chaser, the ‘space plane’ that steals the eyes at the technology fair | Fair | Las Vegas | USA | USA | Samsung | TCL | Amazon | Sony | LG | HP | Panasonic | TECHNOLOGY

The presentation of a real-scale model of the Sierra Space firm’s “space plane”, at the CES 2022, this week’s traditional Las Vegas tech show, is a testament to the beginning of the era of the space market, which has dizzying potential and also carries risks.

When more private companies are interested in exploring space, industry experts believe that this trend will lead to many technological advances, although with the almost certain prospect that space disasters will also occur and lives will be lost.

Sierra Space, a subsidiary of the Sierra Nevada company, wants its nine-meter spacecraft, called “Dream Chaser”, to carry out its first missions this year, betting on the reusable spacecraft as the cornerstone of its ambitions.

“Before, only governments could do it. Now, ordinary human beings can go to space “Neeraj Gupta, head of Sierra Nevada, explained to AFP.

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The small shuttle was designed to transport people and equipment to and from commercial space facilities that the company plans to build in the next 10 years, especially a system of inflatable structures intended to house humans in orbit.

Sierra Nevada signed an agreement with NASA for unmanned flights to the international space station, which should begin in 2022, and collaborates with the company Blue Origin, owned by Jeff Bezos, co-founder of the online commerce giant Amazon.

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Commercial space-related projects are advancing at a dizzying pace, in particular with the rocket launches of SpaceX, the company founded by South African Elon Musk – also owner of the electric car company Tesla – that transports astronauts for NASA.

Last year, Bezos’s space trip, aboard a Blue Origin rocket, unleashed both fascination and a barrage of criticism for the “race to space” being waged among billionaires.

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Space risks

Beyond tourism, the space is now perceived as a new commercial horizon to take seriously.

Many companies had been inclined to more or less extravagant ideas, such as asteroid mining or biomedical applications, but until five years ago the idea of ​​producing something in space and bringing it to Earth did not make sense, explains Mason Peck, professor of astronautics at Cornell University.

“Currently there are companies that are studying this question: How can I make money in space?”Peck told AFP.

The lure of profit has the power to sharply accelerate productivity and technological advancements, far more so than the slow and thoughtful approach of NASA or the European space agency.

“More capital is invested in the space industry. Technology improves, costs go down, so everyone benefits “says Mike Gruntman, professor of astronautics at the University of Southern California.

However, the prospect of an increase in space activity by private companies could also create real risks.

“There will surely be a time when a tragedy will occur. There are traffic accidents, bridges that collapse “Peck envisions.

El Comercio / AFP.

A life-size crew model of the Sierra Space Dream Chaser space plane is shown at CES 2022. (Photo: Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)
A life-size crew model of the Sierra Space Dream Chaser space plane is shown at CES 2022. (Photo: Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)

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