New technologies have spawned a new trend in space transportation: galactic ride sharing.
Spaceflight Industries launched its first rideshare mission, called SSO-A SmallSat Express, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 in 2018. The company purchased all of the available payload space on the rocket to service customers who wanted to launch things into space. It included microsats and cubesats from 17 countries—but there were some unusual projects aboard, too.
Artist Trevor Paglen sent a self-inflating sculpture that reflects sunlight and can be viewed by the naked eye here on earth. A separate spacecraft from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art sent up a 24-karat gold jar with a bust of the first African American astronaut to reach space.
Yet another craft, the Elysium Star 2 sent by Elysium Space, contained the cremated remains of people who wanted to become shooting stars.
As more researchers, artists, and everyday people need to hitch rides on a rocket, we anticipate new business models—and more potential regulation.
This trend is part of our section on Space. Other trends in this section include:
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