Looking ahead to Space 3.0

I know what you're going to say:

"We've barely begun what we're calling Space 2.0 and it'll take years to get there."

I'm aware of that.

Sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees.  I mentioned on the podcast with the Google Lunar X PRIZE folks that I have a question I need to answer.  My 5 year old nephew Xander was in Florida a few weeks ago and wants to know where we're going next since we're down to the last two space shuttle launches. On thanksgiving, he was playing with the Legos I had as a kid (note to all parents, save those Legos!). His question is simple but it hit me hard:

"Uncle Mike, how're we going to explore space after the space shuttles are gone?"

My answer was a sincere as I could be:

"That's up to smart people like you to dream about and help us figure out.  Some cool people are building really cool stuff like rockets, and something called the Dragon capsule for people to ride in right now.  There are lots of other people doing things like this, and I'll bet they could use some of your ideas."

Note to marketing folks: if you want kids to think your stuff is cool, name it with words like "Dragon". Big win for them there.

He climbed off of my lap and set off to create his space future in Legos. I sat there watching him and his 3 year old brother for a long time.  They built a launch complex, mission control center, and rockets on "Earth" (aka the couch).  Then they built a base on Mars (aka the rug) with fuel tanks, food storage, and a home for the travelers because they were going to have to live there and raise their families. Oh, and guns for the space monsters (you can't be too cautious about space monsters when you're 5).

These two pre K aged kids are looking ahead to Space 3.0 and so should we.

Space 2.0 to me is:

  • commercial launch services (SpaceX, Sea Launch, etc)
  • space tourism (Virgin Galactic, Bigelow, etc)
  • exploration by small agile teams (Masten Space, GLXP Competitors, Cubesats, etc)

But what is Space 3.0?

According to a few boys in the generation who will pick up where we left off, it's Space Settlement.  Things like:

  • Mars settlement
  • Asteroid Exploration and mining
  • Fuel depots in space
  • Long range spacecraft

We've spent a lot of time in 2010 going in circles about where to go next.  The answer is simple and we all knew it when we were 5 and playing with Legos.  It's Space 3.0: Human settlements on other worlds.

It's dreamy pie in the sky stuff I know.  We need to do it because that's what we dreamt about being possible.  It's our job to make it possible, so let's get to it.

What do you think Space 2.0 looks like? What about Space 3.0?  Nobody cares about those fabulous new shinies and that innovative new whirly bit that got made. What we care about is the stories we created with our Lego sets when we were 5. THAT'S the exciting part.