The space industry has the potential to improve humanity. Yet, conflict of interest seems to be taking center stage. What should the industry players do to restore the industry to its former glory?
Self Interest Is Leading To Loss of Focus in the Space Industry
Refer to the annals of history, and you will see how far the space industry has evolved. While the two major players were initially Russia and the USA, today, we have players from different parts of the globe.
International governments are becoming more active in their involvement within the industry. They are in charge of different aspects, including final sign-off on projects. They also come up with regulations and are supposed to implement them to level the playing field for all players.
Scandals and More Scandals
Unfortunately, scandals and reports of corruption, underhand practices, and unfair play seem to be dominating the industry. SpaceX’s Elon Musk was not afraid to take on government bodies such as the US Air Force.
In an interesting case, Elon pointed out that UFA may have awarded a contract to the United Launch Alliance (ULA) without following due process. He seems to have had some issues with the appointment of Rodger Correl to head the ULA. According to him, UFA only gave ULA the contract due to the influence of Correl, a former defense official.
China and the US seem to have a long history of scandals. An Arkansas professor is currently in court, fighting a potential 20-year jail sentence. Simon Saw-Teon Ang, a NASA employee, managed to capture the FBI's interest due to the communication he had with a Chinese representative.
Failure to disclose the relationship was an indication that he could have been sharing data belonging to the US government.
US-based space company, Capella Space, is also in court fighting copyright infringement, patent theft, and bankrupting partners. In the ongoing two-year battle with MMA Designs, the founder Thomas J Harvey has to prove that he did not steal patents and documentation.
Conflict of interest was the reason behind NASA's two-year adjournment of a launch to Mars. The company confirmed that specific issues did not allow them to proceed as planned.
Interviews with Dough McCuistion, the Exploration Program Director, did not give any revealing information. However, the company has taken measures to ensure its property's security and confidentiality.
In the UK, a grant award to Orbex placed Katrina Francis in the limelight. At the time of awarding the brand, she was a government official and had her own company, Catriona Francis Ltd.
She was instrumental in Orbex getting the £5.5 million funding. What led to hints of underhand practices was that she went on to join the space company in the role of International Liaison Director.
Managing Unfair Practices
With so many players joining the space industry, implementing regulations can be challenging. With increasing competition, everyone wants to be ahead. Yet the reality is not everyone will play fair.
Industry players need to come together to implement the rules and regulations within the industry. Reports of cases sliding through the cracks should not be an acceptable reason for the industry's rot.
It is time to restore the space industry to its original goal, which is humanity's improvement.