What can we expect from the future of space exploration?

Despite everything we know about space exploration and building spacecraft that can withstand conditions outside Earth’s atmosphere, there’s so much still to learn and develop. The most work in the space industry doesn’t lie in what needs to be made now, but what might be made in future.

What could the future of space exploration hold, and where might it take us next?

What can we expect from the future of space exploration?

There are many developments that could benefit space exploration, from improved propulsion methods for small satellites to new ways to launch satellites into space.

The greatest barrier to entry for those looking to compete in the growing space market is cost. It’s likely that future space exploration developments will aim to reduce the barriers imposed by expensive technology through innovation and, as always, miniaturisation.

Ultimately, advancements in space exploration are aiming to simplify a highly complex, costly, and risky frontier. There are many ways through which this can be achieved, and no single technology is going to overhaul the space industry on its own.

What new technology is being developed to help with future space missions?

Though not being developed solely for space exploration, artificial intelligence has as much to offer the space industry as it does so many other sectors.

AI can help space travel through detailed analyses of risks and predictive flight models, and can even help design the hardware used to build spacecraft, as shown by recent applications by NASA.

In fact, NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program funds early-stage studies that might unlock new concepts shaping the future of space exploration. If concepts included in this program are proven successful, they could lead to the study of planets outside our solar system and drastically shorten the travel time of spacecraft looking to move beyond the heliosphere.

New communications methods being developed using laser technology may enable faster, more secure transmission of data. Videos and images taken by spacecraft can be beamed to Earth from around the Moon. Since laser communication increases the amount of data that can be sent, it allows for higher resolution pieces to be sent with greatly improved speed.

Of course, space exploration involves more than just traversing the vacuum of space itself. Other technology being developed addresses the need to explore celestial bodies that are currently unreachable by humans, such as the moons of distant planets like Saturn.

One such concept being developed is that of a ‘robotic snake’ that propels itself on screw threads, which will allow it to traverse icy terrain and hunt for sources of water. The snake can create 3D maps of its surroundings and upload the data back to Earth, all whilst acting autonomously.

Why is it important to have efficient and well-integrated software when launching a space mission?

Despite the focus on new hardware and technological concepts when developing for space exploration, the importance of software cannot be overstated.

Leaving software to age and fall behind can end with discordant systems that don’t communicate as they should, and can cause once-integrated software to become stovepipe systems that need to be reworked.

Software may also need updating to get several steps ahead and futureproof systems against constant change. It’s often far more beneficial to be proactive than reactive in keeping software efficient, integrated and robust.

Once a space mission has been launched, there’s very little to be done if the software fails. For those launching small satellites like CubeSats, recovery is impossible in the event that inefficient or poorly designed software hinders the operation of the craft or its payload. All of the time and money invested into the satellite goes to waste, and the small craft is left to deorbit and burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

How can Bright Ascension’s new suite of  space software solutions help with the future of space exploration?

All satellite missions have different and unique goals whether it’s connectivity and IoT, positioning and navigation, remote sensing and imaging, or any other service. But every mission’s success is ultimately determined by how efficiently the provider can utilise their space- and ground-based resources.

Software plays perhaps the single most important role in this and yet currently there is no solution on the market that covers the entire space software infrastructure from development to data delivery in an integrated and efficient manner, making full use of available assets.

Bright Ascension is developing an innovative new suite of products that unifies and maximises the use of all mission resources through its underlying core technology, tight integration and seamless information sharing between various software systems.

It creates a complete new suite covering the entire space infrastructure and all software needs of anyone involved in delivering a space-based service.

This approach will help resolve some of the most pressing barriers to space access – such as cost, risk and complexity. The new solutions will make space software development, operation and service delivery as smooth and simple as possible, whilst also saving space companies significant cost, effort and time.

To find out more about Bright Ascension’s upcoming software solutions for small satellites, contact us today.