The term “moonshot” encapsulates the spirit of technological achievement: an accomplishment so ambitious, so improbable, that it’s equivalent to sending a manned mission to explore the moon.
Even before the coining of the term, human industry has advanced due to this mindset. For example, the discovery of the electron was based on pure exploration and curiosity — now, we live in a world run on electronics.
Now, Google (News - Alert) Inc. is offering $20 million in prize money to any independent, privately funded team that successfully lands on the moon.
Why? Because despite the fact that humans have already landed on the moon, and established a regular off-world presence in the creation and staffing of the International Space Station, the moon remains a valuable location for space exploration and advancement.
Space and Industrial Technology
Our moon is Earth’s only satellite and the fifth largest natural satellite in the solar system. In other words, it’s an ideal stage for experimental product placement — products such as SpaceIL’s lunar vehicle, or the legs of an unmanned lunar lander manufactured by the company RUAG Space.
These two pieces of equipment are not only significant due to their off-world application, but also because crucial components used to build them came from 3D printing.
One of the major hurdles facing space travel has always been the vast expense and low return on investment. It’s an investment in discovery and existential fulfillment, rather than in the accumulation of valuable resources, natural or otherwise.
With the cheaper process of 3D printing proving a viable substitution in industrial manufacturing, Google has begun to confirm their “moonshot” philosophy has the potential to benefit industrial companies and their markets.
If something like 3D printing can help create the spacecraft we need to navigate to the moon and beyond, how else will this technology impact the industrial market? The potential effects of emerging technologies hold significant consequences for nearly every existing industry, making the subject an interesting topic for industrial blogs to cover. And it’s not just the growing significance of 3D printing.
How Is Google Thinking Bigger?
Google’s once-classified lab, known as Google X, spearheads several ventures, including Google Glass, Project Loon, the driverless car, neural networking, Project Calico and building robots for the manufacturing industry.
This new surge of futuristic innovation creates greater financial costs that cannot be ignored: costs that require new methods of manufacturing and industrial production across a whole spectrum of industries.
Google’s moonshot intentions are simple: to explore, examine and execute proposals and projects that address significant issues in human society. Create radical solutions that seem impossible, and use groundbreaking technology to implement those proposed ideas. The consequence? Real advancements in industrial manufacturing that result in huge benefits for the industrial markets of the current day and age.
Carbon nanotube manufacturing has begun to replace the use of carbon fiber for radio antennas and other electromagnetic devices. The application for graphene materials continues to grow, not only for display screens, but also in medical, chemical and industrial processes. Even next-generation power sources — batteries that can store energy longer and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of electrical systems — are becoming a reality.
Industry leaders, as well as ambitious newcomers to manufacturing, will soon find themselves facing a new frontier of brand recognition. Based on the fact that the human presence in space has begun to increase, and further developments are being planned, the idea of interstellar marketing becomes more realistic with each passing year.
Manufacturers of cheap, but reliable, space equipment will grow in value as more and more companies and institutions begin implementing their own moonshot projects. Companies that invest in new manufacturing processes and items will become highly sought-after by other cutting-edge industries wishing to save money on equipment costs. The business brands of these companies and their product lines will skyrocket in reputation and marketability.
Where Will Our Next Big Idea Take Us?
The idea behind the “moonshot” term originated with the 1969 Apollo 11 spaceflight project: an incredible feat of human engineering and ingenuity that resulted in the first manmade spacecraft successfully exiting Earth’s atmosphere and landing on the moon. This event marked the first successful landing of mankind on the moon’s surface — an achievement that was considered nearly impossible just a decade before.
Any project classified as a moonshot refers to an ambitious and groundbreaking endeavor people undertake without a complete understanding of its potential rewards and risks. In 1973, the total cost of the Apollo program reached $25.4 billion.
The most expensive aspect of the mission? The spacecraft and Saturn V launch vehicles. Our government made a large investment in going into space because it envisioned the world of scientific discoveries we live in today.
What if it was easier and cheaper to reach the moon, and we could send missions and materials there regularly? What if the cost of going into space was privately financed? What if, in the future, it only took $100,000, rather than $1 million or more, to reach the moon?