Kata Rocks
THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Rising Stars: Thai start-up mu Space Corp to launch space tourism in Asian first

Rising Stars: Thai start-up mu Space Corp to launch space tourism in Asian first

July 20, 2019 marks 50 years since man first touched the Moon, one of the greatest achieve­ments in human history, an unmatched feat of technology, engineering and politics. But what giant leaps has mankind taken since?

ExploreTechnology
By The Phuket News

Sunday 16 June 2019, 10:00AM


Well, we’ve landed spacecraft on Mars, reached the outer parts of our solar system and just about captured a galaxy 13.26 billion light years away with the Hubble Space Telescope. Yet, there is something missing from these achieve­ments, a common criticism of space exploration: we haven’t transported man to anywhere new.

Could it be a Thai start-up that creates a paradigm shift, space travel that is no longer for highly skilled astronauts from the US, China or Russia but in fact a plethora of ‘normal’ people? Varayuth “James” Yen­bamroong and his team at muSpace Corp believe so.

“In the past, launching things into space was really expensive because the rockets that were used could be flown only once,” James told The Phuket News, “But now, space companies are experimenting with reusable rockets. This capability could save aerospace companies tens of millions of dollars in production costs, and thus lead to space travel being possible and cheaper in the future.

“Once reusable rockets are the norm, I’m sure space travel will not only be reserved to astronauts, but it can also be offered to other individuals. Once that happens, we’ll see the birth of an entirely new industry,” he explains.

James’ interest in space launched when he was just a boy growing up in Bangkok, sketching planes, robots and futuristic ideas of outer space across his bedroom walls. Luckily, he switched walls and Crayolas for pen and paper, and now, with a degree in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from the Univer­sity of California under his belt, he’s prepared to make his futuristic ideas reality.

Although mu Space is a young venture, founded only two years ago this month, James has confidently set a goal of sending 100 people to the Moon in the next 10 years. This figure eclipses the 12 that have made the 384,400 kilometre trip so far. Exciting? Optimistic? Why not both? It’s important to be opti­mistic, especially in astronomy. It drives us to achieve what others thought previously impossible.

As recently as January 2017, scientists detected two black holes colliding 1.3 billion light years away, creating a gravitational energy more powerful than all the light radiated in the observable universe. Breakthroughs such as this do not start with conserv­ative and restrained ideologies.

The mu Space brand of space tourism is set to commence in 2021 with shorter trips to the Karman line, the internationally accepted boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. Flight test pro­grammes are underway and positive progress points towards a launch in two years, but safety is naturally their top priority and humans will only be flown when mu Space is fully prepared.

“What makes mu Space unique is our target cus­tomers. We want to be the first to offer space tourism in the Asia-Pacific region,” says James, “We’ll send space tourists 100 kilometres above the Earth, let them experience zero gravity and they’ll return back to Earth after several minutes. To ensure their safety in space, we’ll provide them with advanced space suits similar to those worn by astronauts.”

Their “OO mission” space suit, currently in the design stages, is a sleek Iron Man-inspired ensemble that will protect against freezing cold temperatures, micrometeorites and radiation whilst offering maxi­mum mobility to, eventually, manoeuvre a lunar rover, collect samples and walk on the Moon’s rocky surface.

Textile materials for use on the space suit were sent above the Karman line and into space as part of a six-kilogram payload which flew onboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket in July 2018. Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and founder, established Blue Ori­gin with the same bold vision as James: to seed an enduring human presence in space. The New Shep­ard rocket, which returned two months after launch, landed vertically, demonstrating the feasibility of reuse, as James advocates.

Also on board the mu Space payload was a bleeding preventive device, a carbon nanotube and vacuum-sealed food – their functionality tested after exposure to microgravity – and a jersey of the Thai national football team to symbolise the World Cup and the successful rescue of the 13-member football team from Tham Luang cave. The latter has a par­ticular personal value; mu Space collaborated with Google and Weather Decision Technologies to provide the cave rescuers with weather forecast models.

Laguna Golf Phuket

Just last month, mu Space sent its second payload, this time with the intention of raising public aware­ness. The payload contained signature boards with a thousand names and signatures on, including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s, collected at the Digital Thailand Big Bang and TechSauce Global Summit.

“This initiative is the first in Asia and this is some­thing Thais should be proud of. It shows Thailand’s capability to participate in the space race and create history,” says James.

With mu Space breaking so many boundaries and achieving so many ‘firsts’, it’s worth asking, why has Thai­land been so far behind the curve when it comes to space travel?

“It might be because space-related activities require intensive funding. Therefore, a space agency must execute their plan according to their funding and the technology they have avail­able,” explains James.

“I’m optimistic that as more and more private space launch companies come to market, the cost of launching spacecraft will continue to decrease. This improvement should free up fund­ing for space agencies to launch their own space missions in the future.”

Thailand’s leading aerospace compa­ny want to help those on the ground too with a satellite-based broadband service starting in Thailand and eventually cov­ering most of the Asia-Pacific region. To do this, they must fire a geosynchronous satellite into Earth’s orbit. This means the satellite roughly follows the same latitude – with a small amount of wig­gle room north to south – enabling good coverage over the Asia-Pacific region at almost all times, potentially spelling the end of the tangled webs of cables on Thai streets. mu Space’s very own satel­lite could be live in our skies as soon as 2021 and at a cost of US$150 million, a small price to pay for universal, reliable communication networks.

mu Space also plans to enable cities to improve connectivity and infrastruc­ture in order to create a smarter and more sustainable future for Earth’s messy inhabitants through: 360° casual wearable camera; smart clothing that monitors changes in the body; aviation internet; maritime connectivity; and a huge, futuristic ‘everyOne Park’ that displays innovations in satellite and space technology.

If these goals feel alien to you, un­fathomable, or you simply think “Why should I care if it doesn’t affect me?”, you are the exact person mu Space is targeting. James feels that the general public’s understanding is that space research is only profitable for academia and doesn’t have real life, real people applications. Yet, if it wasn’t for space technology, we wouldn’t have: memory foam; durable radial tyres (thanks to the Mars rover); prosthetic limbs (thanks to NASA’s robots using artifi­cial muscle and actuation technology); and even baby food (astronauts needed nutrient rich food formulas too).

If mu Space can make space travel, or space tourism, a closer reality for the average citizen, the push for space funding and further real world appli­cations become more attainable. mu Space’s journey to the next frontier is as much about the small inventions, innovations and applications of these successes en route as it is about human­ity’s desire to live beyond. What may seem impossible today, such as travel­ling to that colliding black hole, may one day, with optimism and funding, become a reality.

At the very least, mu Space has the power to inspire Thailand into think­ing bigger, beyond their small slice of paradise, up into the stars and, for all we know, beyond.

– Ross Armstrong

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

CAPTCHA

Christy Sweet | 17 June 2019 - 11:40:50

By all means pump tons of carbon into the atmosphere for the sake of profits so we can all be in more danger from Thai safety mentalities falling upon our heads from the sky.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Body of second missing Filipino found off Phuket

Koh Keow (Green Island) is 1 of 2 small islands in the south of Phuket next to Promthep Cape. Isnt i...(Read More)


Phuket readies for HM King’s birthday

Fascinated, it is clearly mentioned that no ban on alcohol sales has been announced SO FAR. What n...(Read More)


Cross Hotels & Resorts inks deal for new Phuket venue

To be clear, they are taking over an existing hotel, not adding a new one to Patong's already th...(Read More)


Phuket Poll: Environmental damage, prices too high

And what would Mr.K like officials to do about those high prices? Force everyone to sell food at low...(Read More)


PM Prayut calls out Phuket van driver for overcharging Aussie tourists

What has this water shortage talk from Mr.K to do with this article? And as he knows that there wil...(Read More)


Phuket airport van B3k fare ‘just a misunderstanding’, say police

As Mr.K knows the prices so well,maybe he could tell us what the published prices are at those desk...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: Hit the dog

No one would deny that this was an appalling thing to do, but if you want to talk about legal ramifi...(Read More)


Phuket readies for HM King’s birthday

Err Capn Jack READ the last sentence there is CLEARLY mention of it....(Read More)


Bridging Supply: Officials reveal B3.5bn proposal to resolve island’s water shortage woes

Ahhhh Dkk- still as arrogant as ever I read. I've been waiting years for YOUR constructive comme...(Read More)


Phuket Poll: Environmental damage, prices too high

Great Phuket Poll. Now waiting for response of Phuket Officialdom as the outcome is significant. Sic...(Read More)