Welcome To Your New Home In Space | GIANT LEAP Ep. 2


Four rooms, earth view. Sounds far-fetched at
the moment, doesn’t it? But you know we may be
seeing ads like this in the not too distant future. Living away from earth has always captured our imagination. As well as providing
the basics for survival, these ideas are a symbol of humankind’s unique
creativity and ambition. This advanced base, or space station, will be headquarters for the
final ascent to the moon. Today the idea of multiple outposts where we can live and work in
space has never seemed closer. We’re gonna fly. It’s about making our lives
the best we can make it. It’s about as a species
having a path for our future. And the mission to create these habitats is well underway as
private companies get ready to take that next giant leap. The International Space Station. It’s the only space habitat we have. One of the first places
they take you in the ISS is the cupola so you can
finally look at the Earth in all its beauty. I don’t care who you are,
it’s always stunning, it’s shocking, it’s amazing,
because that’s the view you’ve been waiting for your entire life. It passes over 90% of
the world’s population without most of us ever realizing. And, at an estimated
cost of a $150 billion, it’s the most expensive
object we’ve ever built. You think about the Sistine
Chapel, the pyramids, and the Burj Khalifa or take your pick. I mean it far outstrips those. It’s the one and only
non-terrestrial human outpost. We’ve had a constant human footprint in orbit for almost 20 years because of the
International Space Station. The collaboration between 15 countries started construction in
1998 and was pieced together in space over the course of a decade. Since 2000 it’s been a permanently crude research laboratory. A space habitat that’s
allowed humankind to live, manufacture, and explore beyond Earth. The overarching achievement of the space station has been education. It has educated us about
how to do research. It’s educated us about how to live. It’s educated us about the
harshness of the environment that it is in. And it’s about learning, I think. People say what was one
of your favorite parts about being up there? Hands down, floating everywhere I went. Bbut your first impressions
for ISS certainly is, it’s how big it is. The ISS is the size of an American football field
with most of that footprint taken up by eight solar arrays. These provide enough
energy to power 40 homes. The station has an American
side and a Russian side as well as contributions
from other nations like Canada, Japan,
and the European Union. Astronauts on board can pass
freely between these sections. Their living and working
areas are made up of modules, each 4.2 meters in diameter. And in total, they have the
same volume as a Boeing 747. The three main labs,
Destiny, Hope, and Columbus, are conducting up to
600 ongoing experiments at any one time. And while it’s been a collaboration between governments to
build and maintain the ISS, its next chapter will rely
more on private enterprise. Today’s a very remarkable day. NASA is opening the
International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing these opportunities as we’ve never done before. Managing and maintaining the ISS costs $3.4 billion a year. That’s over half NASA’s
space operations budget. Aging hardware and space debris
will only add to these costs which is why NASA is now hoping
to pass some responsibility for the station over to
commercial companies. We would like to see a
robust commercial marketplace in low earth orbit where
space stations exist outside of NASA. The goal being that NASA
could be a customer. And we want to have numerous providers that are competing against each other on cost and innovation. Keep your rut, and– With federal funding
proposed to stop in 2025, opening the station to private enterprise would free up resources for
the space agency’s ambitions to return to the moon and journey to Mars. Transferring to a more commercial model is allowing industry to take
over many of those areas that NASA has traditionally
been responsible for. Like the design, and operations, and maintenance of space systems. But the most exciting part, I
think, is new opportunities. The iPhones would have never come from the government, for instance. The base technology came
from the government, but the way it’s used, the way
it interacts with consumers, governments aren’t really built for that. So I think that’ll be exciting
to see how private industry uses the same technology
or the same systems but then use them in a different way. Every NASA achievement has been the collaborative
achievement of NASA and industry. What’s going on right now
that’s a little bit different is NASA is turning to companies, not to direct them what to do, but it’s turning to companies
to build relationships with them because those companies
are attracting investment from non-space sources and
are bringing a different kind of innovation to the table. In the shadow of NASA’s sprawling Johnson Space Center, the headquarters of startup Axiom Space might seem a little modest,
but their goal is big, to build the first
commercial space station. Led by a former ISS program manager, the team has been
involved in every mission to the station since its inception. We know it has to be much
lower cost to operate on orbit than ISS is today so this is key to continuing the heritage of ISS. It’s to start there so
we can evolve everybody to the next platform. I liken this to the Internet. So the Internet was created,
and we got very excited, and any kid with a good idea and just the basic programming skills could go build a program to do something. We have huge companies
that grew out of that and still today there’s new
ideas, new things being built. The thing about a microgravity environment is it’s limitless. It’s like the data we have access to on the Internet is limitless. And it is not immediately
obvious to us all the benefits that that’s gonna entail but over time it will
become very, very obvious. By 2024, Axiom plans
to send a central node to attach to the ISS that
will make up the core of their new station. This will be followed by
crew quarters for 16 people and research and manufacturing modules. When the ISS is retired, this will break away
and additional modules with a life span of 30 years will be added and swapped out as they
age using a robotic arm. And they’re hoping to do all of this for 1/50th the cost of the ISS. I mean when you talk about our vision, it sounds really simple. It really is about driving the thought process and the cost down so that anybody that
wants to take advantage of our place in orbit and a microgravity environment can do so. And that’s really it. Okay Ellen, I need to go towards my feet. The International Space Station is a fantastic vehicle
but one of the big things is they have quite a few
major components outside. Which means you have to do an EVA, a spacewalk, to go fix it. A spacewalk on a good day is
a hundred hours of crew time to get ready and actually
go do the spacewalk, so we’re able to take advantage of the reduced size of components. And so our design is gonna
have all of the components are gonna be in a pressurized environment. So we know what the basics are. Water, food, clothing, life support. And we know how to handle those but now the next step is how
do we make it more intuitive and we want to now take
advantage of the technologies and the capabilities we have today to build more luxury into the experience. The objective is to make the
environment the background for all the users. You’re every day doing whatever
you want to do on orbit. Research, manufacturing,
looking out the window. Whatever you’re there to do, we want you to be able to do that and not even think about the environment. And it’s because of our experience on ISS, and what the team brings to Axiom Space, we are able to build that environment. You won’t worry about that. Three, two, one, release,
release, release. Fire, fire! Like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, Axiom is hoping to attract space tourists with tickets starting at $55
million for a 10-day mission. But that’s just one part of the commercial space station market that they think could be worth $37 billion over the next decade. Our first commercial customers are countries who have astronauts in space and want to expand their activity in space and countries who do not yet have a human space flight program who want to send people up. And we’ve now got both research
and manufacturing companies who want to do work with us while we’re at the
International Space Station and on our platform after
it separates from ISS. Human space flight is
particularly exciting because it’s that slice of
space that is really nascent. It hasn’t undergone the crowding
that satellites have had. It hasn’t already had
that explosive growth. It’s really ready for that now. The first thing I’m really
looking forward to seeing happen is the face of our first
astronauts on orbit looking back down on us and
knowing that we had a hand in sending that person to space. And ultimately the separation of ISS when it’s ready to be
retired and de-orbited and then we continue
in space independently. For me, that is a stepping
off moment for humanity. It’s almost like when Neil Armstrong put that first boot on the moon. This will be the first
time that we’ve gone from a platform of learning
how to live in space to building our permanent home in space. Other private companies also want to use the
ISS as a starting point for their own ventures. Bigelow Aerospace already has one of its inflatable structures
attached to the station. And others including Sierra Nevada and NanoRacks have put forward proposals. Space habitats are expensive. I think it’s a false dichotomy to say, “Okay, we’re done with the
International Space Station, “let’s move on to commercial platforms.” What I think is much
more likely and realistic and what NASA is certainly driving toward is an incremental transition
where commercial platforms attach to the space station or work collaboratively
with the space station. The next chapter cannot occur without the active
engagement of companies. That said, that active engagement
might not be as customers, might not be as drivers, it might be in service of
government mission objectives. We will return American
astronauts to the moon. Not only to leave behind
footprints and flags but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond. This proposed mission, along with SpaceX’s own ambition
to reach the Red Planet, has opened up a longer term market. And some companies are already thinking beyond orbiting habitats
like space stations to actually building on the
surface of other planets. I was working in a firm
designing skyscrapers and I saw Elon and he
landed his Falcon X rocket in the middle of the ocean. And
that, for me, was a trigger. I thought, “Wow, this
could actually happen.” And it’s always been my dream to put a building on the moon or Mars, and if he’s going at the pace he’s going, it could definitely
happen within my lifetime and I want to be the one to build it. In this warehouse alongside startups from across the U.S., architecture
firm, AI SpaceFactory, are refining the production of MARSHA, a four-story structure they
created for a NASA competition to design the next generation
of space habitats on Mars. When we started designing
our Mars habitat, MARSHA, I think we looked at everything
that had been done already and kind of tossed that aside. But what we were given was a
set of guidelines from NASA. They think the best way
to build a habitat on Mars or the moon is to use what they call in situ resource utilization. So use the materials that are there. If you’ve seen Sci-Fi movies, you might see glass and steel
domes on distant planets, but the reality is to
ship that kind of material to the moon or Mars would
be so exorbitantly expensive you would never be able to
build in the first place. So the idea is to send
the 3D printing robot which can then harvest the
materials you find on a site and build with that. The reusable print material is a mix of biopolymer
made from recycled plastic or plants like corn and sugarcane. And basalt, the rock
found on Mars and Earth. It’s the rock that gives
us its incredible strength. We’ve tested this material. It’s three times as strong
as concrete in compression and it actually has what we
call it, a tensile compass. It can prevent itself
from being pulled apart which is something
concrete’s not very good at. You need to think at all times how do you optimize the amount
of material that you use. And that’s also why this
thing is shaped like an egg. And if you think of an egg, it’s a very structurally optimized form. It’s very, very thin but it
provides the strength that that egg needs and that’s why this is shaped the way that it is. The egg shape as well as the nested shell structure also accommodates for extreme differences in pressure and temperature
on the surface of Mars. But more research still needs to be done to find out how print
materials could be gathered and how 3D printing would work in the unique environment of space. You’re dealing with a completely
different set of physics and environments which is very harsh. The cold, the low gravity,
the vacuum of space. And finding solutions
for how to build there or do anything in space just requires a high degree of innovation. There’s no such thing as brute
force when it comes to space. Like you need to think about the problem, find a very elegant, lightweight,
cost-effective solution. The next challenge is really
going to places on Earth, literally taking the dirt
that we’re finding on a site, and beginning to print with the dirt. We have to perfect this
technology on Earth, and then we go prove it out on the moon, and then finally on to Mars. The first customers could include NASA and
companies like SpaceX who would lease out these structures for individual missions. But before that AI SpaceFactory hope their technology could be monetized as well as transformational here on Earth. The challenges of
building on Mars forced us to make this jump in
construction technology which we can now apply on Earth
to build more sustainably. So rather than building
with steel and concrete, which are these manufactured, very energy-intensive
materials, to go to a site, have a solar powered array that would then allow our 3D printer to print in the most
sustainable way possible. And we never would have found these ways if it wasn’t for the challenge
of building in space. Three, two, one. Ignition and liftoff of the
Falcon 9 to the space station on the first commercial launch from Kennedy Space
Center’s historic Pad 39A. Humans have now been consistently living and working in space
for more than 15 years. And if we want to keep that up, what do habitats need to look like? And frankly, they can be
large or they can be small, but the future of space
habitats really, to me, comes down to the ability to persistently maintain human presence. Whether that’s a few
people or many people, that seems to be the dividing line between where we were before and where we want to be in the future. We have to learn how to benefit
from what we do on orbit and bring those natural benefits back home so we help ourselves out on the ground while we also learn to
live somewhere else. And it really, at the very deepest level, is about survival of our species, so I get pretty excited
when I spend a few moments thinking about what we’re off to go do ’cause this really is the first step to learning to live off the planet. That first step is just the start of our journey to create
a lasting legacy in space. While commercial companies
may be stepping in to imagine what these new
space habitats look like, it’s what’s happening inside of them that may unlock the future
of space industrialization. On the next episode of Giant Leap, we’ll visit the private companies who are looking to build their business around manufacturing in space. Using the unique
properties of microgravity, they plan to create new materials with extraordinary qualities that can’t be replicated on Earth. Including new manufacturing techniques that could change how we build
large structures in space and even unlock the ability
to 3D print full human organs. But before low earth orbit can become a new industrial center, we’re going to need to
take another giant leap.

35 thoughts on “Welcome To Your New Home In Space | GIANT LEAP Ep. 2

  1. Fun fact after mass extinction of earth astronauts are mans chance of repopulation so it's a good idea to have reserves in space

  2. I am extremely excited for the future of space! I am lucky enough to live through all of this going to see some crazy things over the next 100 years!

  3. Such a good series. In a world gone mad, these stories of current and impending human scientific progress, both in space and on Earth, are a breath of fresh air.

  4. Fellow smart people, I would like to point out that NASA is lying to you every time they refer to going to the moon as a "stepping stone" or "jumping off point" to Mars (@11:14). They, as well as anybody else familiar with orbital mechanics, know there is no resistance in space so once your moving KEEP GOING and don't stop until you get there because it takes just as much fuel to stop as go!
    AKA a pitstop on the moon or around it would be like hitting an onramp, accelerating to 60mph then breaking to a stop half way up it for a smoke and THEN accelerating back up to 60mph to get on the freeway to Mars so to speak.
    I hate being lied to especially over and over and over and over and so casually.
    ~Pricks

  5. "The iPhone wouldn't be possible without the space station." – Really??? The technology for the iPhone was not driven by space tech. Computers tech was driven by the need for computation and hobbyists. Check out the real history of the iPhone.

  6. It's funny how humans spends billions of dollars to to create new home in space while at the same time spending trillions of dollars distorying our very own home planet earth.

  7. I don't think I've ever seen a series on youtube with such positive comments!
    Excellent videos so-far; very informative, well made and inspirational.

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