Exploring the Final Frontier: Embracing Diversity and Sustainability in Space for a Better Tomorrow
Culturelabs Co is on a mission to bring diversity and sustainability to the space industry. Its vision is to bring about a change in decision-making processes in the sector by promoting diversity in thought and representation, and also focus on sustainability.
Culturelabs recently led a workshop at the Yokogawa Electric offices with a diverse group of experts who looked into life in 2040 when humanity had moved beyond an earth-bound society. There they discussed what a “cislunar” circular society would look like and how it would be diverse and sustainable for the Earth, Moon and any inhabitants living in orbit between the two. Cislunar refers to all space between the moon and earth.
Yokogawa Electric is one of the many companies that have joined Japanese startup ispace's HAKUTO-R lunar exploration program, where they hope they will find water in order to make life on the moon sustainable. Yokogawa aims to ultimately use water splitting technology to achieve a fully sustainable lunar existence powered entirely by renewable sources.
Culturelabs' Shimada went to visit them at the recent International Space Industry Exhibition in Tokyo Big Sight to check out their lunar water sensing technology, which will be used in some of those missions.
According to its website, ispace's ultimate goal is also to look at developing a space infrastructure that is sustainable and efficient and says it is moving forward in this field. It has already launched its first mission to land on the moon called HAKUTO-R. This is named after the white rabbit (or hakuto in Japanese that according to Japanese folklore lives on the moon and its first mission is to test out the viability of future moon landings.
Called HAKUTO-R Mission 1, it was launched successfully on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral earlier in December 2022. The lunar landing is expected in 3 to 5 months after take-off, according to ispace's website. If successful, it will mark the first time a privately led mission has successfully landed on the surface of the Moon.
Mission 2 and 3 are expected to further test the lunar landing and space capabilities and are part of the US-led international Artemis project which is focused on propelling lunar exploration forward and eventually achieving the goal of sending humans back to the moon by 2025.
However, with the "space race" currently dominated by large governments and billionaires, Culturelabs aims to incite transformation towards greater diversity and sustainability. Already the big players seem admit to the need for a greater variety and diversity of players in this fast-growing industry.
"To succeed, we need not only JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), but also the cooperation of private companies," NASA's attaché at the US embassy Garvey McIntosh was quoted in the Mainichi Shimbun telling crowds at the recent exhibition at Tokyo Big Sight. Culturelabs hopes to further that diversity amongst the many Japanese private companies that are starting to emerge in this field.
For its fiscal 2022 and 2023 supplementary and initial budgets, the Japanese government has earmarked 611.9 billion yen ($4.8 billion) towards space-related activities, indicating a 17 percent surge from the collective amounts assigned for fiscal 2021 and 2022., according to the Mainichi Shimbun.