Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is getting into the space business, but in a new way. Alongside Alex Fielding, a member of the first iMac team and founder of the now-closed *Wheels of Zeus* startup, the Woz has founded space company Privateer. While Privateer’s website is in stealth mode without any real information, Gizmodo uncovered a tidbit about Privateer in an August 2021 press release for a 3D titanium alloy printer. The release describes Privateer as a “satellite company focused on the monitoring and cleaning up objects in space”. More details are expected at the AMOS Tech 2021 conference, running from Sept. 14 through Sept. 17, 2021. Estimates say that the number of active and defunct satellites orbiting the Earth has increased from 3,300 to more than 7,600 in the last 10 years. That number could grow to as many as 100,000 satellites before 2030. With so many other private space companies pushing for space travel for private citizens, Wozniak’s effort to clean up space is definitely a breath of fresh air.
Going into space is no trivial feat. It’s actually so dangerous that 1.4 percent of Russian, Soviet, and American crewed spaceflight missions have resulted in fatalities. Still, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origins wants to turn it commercial, and so does Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Richard Branson’s July 2021 maiden voyage out of the atmosphere veered off course early on. Critics say the pilots should have aborted the mission. They didn’t, and Branson still made it safely into orbit and then back home. Nicholas Smidle might be the most knowledgeable journalist on Branson’s Virgin Galactic efforts. The writer shared his knowledge of and insight on the incident. Even though the crew made it home safe and sound, I’m still worried about the safety of space tourism. At least for now.
The craft was about twenty miles in the air above the White Sands Missile Range, in New Mexico, and climbing, travelling more than twice the speed of sound. But it was veering off course, and the light was a warning to the pilots that their flight path was too shallow and the nose of the ship was insufficiently vertical. If they didn’t fix it, they risked a perilous emergency landing in the desert on their descent.
Dr. Brooks argues that tangible imperatives, whether threat or aspiration, drive humanity to ‘think outside the box’ and to innovate.