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As a kid, I was intrigued about what the future of space would bring. Science Fiction and popular media would bombard us with constant streams of stories about inexpensive and accessible spaceflight, moon bases and Mars cities, all just around the corner. The message was clear: Anyone could go to space. Two decades later, the prospect of a common person taking a “space bus” to Mars is just as far away in the future as it was then. I ask myself, when will that future finally come?

The traditional space sector is a slow moving beast with a notoriously risk-adverse mentality. This is understandable considering the costs. $100 billion for a space station. $100 million for a rocket launch. $50 million for a telecommunications satellite, Yikes!

A wave of change is however happening today. A “NewSpace” movement is taking shape across the world where entrepreneurs, doers and makers are creating space companies with lofty goals, shoestring budgets, and innovative, bordering ridiculous ideas. Launching cheap satellites using off-the-shelf technology? Planet Labs! 3D printing in space? Made in Space! Asteroid mining (and taking selfies in orbit)? Planetary Resources! These and many more are all founded within the last five years. The next five will guarantee you many more.

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(Alberto Cuadra and Katie Park, Washington Post)

The success of these companies is attributed to people with various backgrounds getting together, combining ideas and expertise. Planet Labs was formed through discussions held by three guys at a United Nation conference. Made in Space was conceived at Singularity University during a 10 week intensive program bringing together interdisciplinary participants across the entire world. Planetary Resources employs a board of advisors as diverse as the movie director James Cameron and the former CTO of Microsoft David Vaskevitch. Interdisciplinary collaboration seems to be a prerequisite for success in the NewSpace era. Traditional stereotypes are being challenged. Space is going mainstream.

Interdiciplinary

I am therefore happy to introduce StartupWeekend Space: Bremen, an extended weekend where you can be a rocket scientist. You will be supported by experts and entrepreneurs in the space sector, transforming your outrageous space ideas into actual businesses. Therefore I challenge you to join us in April and help shape the future of the most exciting, rewarding and fundamentally important industry possible!

As for the answer to the question at the beginning? The future will only come when YOU make it happen! Make it happen! #BeSpacial!


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magni.johannsson@dlr.de