Yesterday marked the end of the Perseverance rover’s 300m mile journey to Mars and the start of a 687-day mission to better understand whether the planet would make for a nice place to live.
Costs for development and operation of the rover will likely total $2.4B…
… But the benefits on Earth are likely worth far more
Since the 1960s, NASA’s Mars programs have led to countless innovations, including materials for heart surgeries, methane-leak detectors, and — importantly — carbonating beer.
With Perseverance, it’s no different:
- Honeybee Robotics developed drill bits for the rover’s robotic arm that were also commercialized for use with standard drills
- Tempo Automation simulated designs for NASA’s circuit boards and then discovered the technology’s utility in the broader circuit manufacturing process
- Tech in Photon Systems’ spectroscopy tool for Perseverance is being tested for use in pharmaceuticals, food processing, and wastewater management
More and more companies are building for space
As space travel and exploration have become more popular, other companies have specialized in building anything from wrenches for astronauts to zero-gravity espresso machines for the ISS.
But most money is in the ‘space-for-earth’ business
Known as the space-for-earth economy, goods and services sent to space for use on Earth — including for telecommunications, Earth observation, and national security — made up 95% of the $366B in 2019 space sector revenues.
But as costs decrease and successful missions attract new entrants, expect both the space-for-earth and space-for-space economies to scale up.
For now, the Perseverance rover’s clearest immediate impact on Earth is, without a doubt, limited edition Krispy Kreme Mars doughnuts.