02 June, 2018
The United States government is trying to help private companies in their efforts to use space for business purposes.
Last week, President Donald Trump signed a space policy directive aimed at easing rules on commercial use of space.
Trump signed the directive just days after Space X launched another rocket carrying satellites into Earth orbit.
The launch and several others planned for June are examples of private industries' growing interest in space for commercial and scientific research.
Will Marshall is chief executive officer of Planet, a leading provider of geospatial information. He told VOA business leaders' interest in space "is starting to come back and do some really interesting things."
Planet has put up about 200 satellites in orbit around the Earth. They make images of its complete land mass each day.
Marshall said that before his company, satellite imagery was only taken every year or several years. He told VOA that many industries can use the now orderly, regular images from space.
"You can use that data to improve crop yields so farmers can use it to decide when to add fertilizer, or when to add water because we can tell crop yield from orbit...Or it could be used by governments for a wide range of things from border security to disaster response."
Satellites also orbit our planet for purposes of national security.
Steve Isakowitz is president and chief executive officer of the Aerospace Corporation, a company that works with the U.S. Air Force and intelligence community. He said, "We just launched a few months ago a satellite that was just like this, but also had laser communication. We were able to send at 200 megabits per second high data rates down to the ground and the ability for satellites to actually talk to each other. The same satellites that are put up to look at the Earth could be looking around the neighborhood and doing neighborhood watch for...national security and space situational awareness."
Also orbiting the Earth is the International Space Station (ISS), a place of great interest to some major companies and research centers. The ISS National Laboratory and astronauts inside perform experiments that would not be possible on Earth.
The lack of gravity affects the experiments, noted Jennifer Lopez of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, which directs the ISS National Laboratory.Also, the space station orbits the Earth 16 times a day, experiencing extreme temperatures and radiation, providing a one-of-a-kind environment for experiments.Some experiments may help life on Earth; however, the findings can also help with future human exploration into deep space.
"There is so much opportunity right now in space; Mars is one of those opportunities," said Chad Anderson, chief executive officer of Space Angels, which invests in the space industry.
While NASA, the U.S. space agency, works on sending humans to the moon and Mars, the space near Earth will become busier as businesses explore this final frontier.
I'm Susan Shand.
Elizabeth Lee wrote this story for VOANews. Susan Shand adapted her story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
commercial – adj. related to the buying and selling of services or goods
executive – adj. related to the directing of people or things
geospatial – adj. the part of space near the earth
regular – adj. happening over and over again at the same time or in the same way
data – n. information that is collected for understanding something.
yield – n. the amount of product or crop that is produced
megabits – n. one million bits
opportunity – n. a good chance for improvement or progress
frontier – n. a distant area where few people live