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Space: A New Frontier in Global Management

September 30, 2021

The space industry is in an exciting time with the increasing possibilities of commercial spaceflight, along with advances in space exploration and innovation. In the past few years, NASA, private organizations like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin, and others have made huge strides in the advancement of space technology and travel.

In July alone, Virgin Galactic sent four passengers into space on the VSS Unity. Just days later, Blue Origin launched the New Shepard reusable suborbital launch system with four passengers. In September, SpaceX launched Inspiration4, the first all-civilian mission to orbit. All three companies are planning for more private spaceflights in the near future. 

Bottom line, commercial spaceflight is no longer something only seen in sci-fi films. In fact, space consultancy Northern Sky Research estimates that the market for space tourism will reach $10.4 billion by 2028. While space travel is currently limited to millionaires and billionaires - with prices as high as $55 million per ticket - it is estimated that by the end of this decade, prices will be more affordable. However, it's attainability for "normal" people is yet to be discovered.  

Beyond commercial spaceflight, space exploration is also reaching new heights. Here are a few examples: 

  • For decades Hollywood has been depicting humans living and working on Mars. Soon, it could be a reality. Mars One is working on developing a permanent human settlement on Mars. By 2033, they are expected to have 100 permanent residents exploring the red planet and creating a second home for humanity. According to their website, "[it] will be humankind’s first step to become a multiplanetary species." 
  • Have you ever wondered just how old the galaxy is? We should soon have the answer. NASA is scheduled to launch the James Webb Space Telescope -- the Hubble Telescope's successor -- by the end of 2021. According to NASA's website, "Webb will be the largest, most powerful and complex space telescope ever built and launched into space."  It will enable scientists to see deeper into space and find the first galaxies that formed in the universe. Many are theorizing it will reveal the infancy of our galaxy. 
  • Many of the functions we perform or utilize on Earth -- GPS and communications for example -- are made possible by satellites. As of 2020, there were 2,666 satellites in space. 61% of them are for communications, 27% are for Earth observation -- especially border and environmental monitoring -- and the rest are for GPS and technology development. By 2028, nearly 10,000 additional satellites will be launched.    
  • With more people going to space, an important consideration is the impact of space travel on a person's health. The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine just recently announced its original research platform to study the health and performance in private spaceflight participants. As a partner of the NASA Human Research Program, they will collect data and work to reduce health risks for astronauts and uncover advances for terrestrial healthcare.    

All of these advancements mean more opportunities

When people think of jobs in the space industry, most think of astronauts and scientists. Of course, these positions are prominent and important, but there are thousands of people needed for space travel and exploration -- scientists, engineers, technicians, public relations and human resources officers, managers and many others. The expansions in the space industry is opening up even more opportunities. 

New opportunities require new education and training 

As the space sector grows, and new opportunities arise, there needs to be more educational options to train and prepare people for a career in the space industry. "The world desperately needs global leaders and managers who are trained to maximize the economic, social and environmental benefits of the burgeoning space sector," said Thunderbird Director General and Dean, Sanjeev Khagram.

Thunderbird is training these global leaders and mangers. ASU is the No. 1 university for innovation and has been at the forefront of space studies for many years - with the Interplanetary InitiativeASU NewSpace, collaboration on the Emirates Mars Mission, the development of space technologies and more. Thunderbird is the No. 1 school for global management. Now, as part of the ASU Enterprise, Thunderbird has the global management reputation and the innovation capabilities to offer a robust space management and leadership education. 

In January 2022, Thunderbird will launch the Executive Master of Global Management in Space Leadership, Business, and Policy. The degree program will focus on areas like space entrepreneurship, potential regulation and governance, public-private collaborations, economic inequality and other ethical challenges, and future sustainable industries.

The one-year executive masters program is geared toward professionals with at least eight years of work experience, three of which need to be in a management role. It will be delivered by world-leading faculty, including Greg Autry, Vice President of the National Space Society and former NASA official, and Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Principal Investigator of the NASA Psyche mission and co-chair of ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative. This new graduate degree is the world's first in outer space business management. 

“Outer space offers virtually unlimited opportunities in this Fourth Industrial Revolution," said Khagram. "As the space sector grows exponentially, private companies and governments will create immense demand for future-ready entrepreneurs, investors, executives and managers." 

How a global management degree can help get a career in space 

Space Endeavors are Global Endeavors 

Space projects often involve people from many different countries. On the International Space Station (ISS) alone, there are six people from six countries living and working together. Knowing how to work with people across cultures and languages is absolutely essential in space jobs. “If we don’t have these managers with digital global mindsets and cross-cultural skills, space will increasingly become an area for zero-sum competition,” said Khagram. 

Space Endeavors are Transdisciplinary Endeavors 

It takes a lot of people with a lot of different expertise to work in the space industry. Most people must have knowledge in several areas in order to be successful. We call this transdisciplinary experience -- a core element of the Thunderbird curriculum. The transdisciplinary experience that one gets at Thunderbird is invaluable in the space sector.

Space Endeavors are Cross-Sectoral Endeavors 

The changes and advancements in space travel and exploration mean that governments, nonprofits and the private sector will need to work together to create policies and guidelines for sustainable, inclusive growth. Additionally, executives who are looking to move into a space career may need to move sectors. Thunderbird provides the knowledge and experience necessary to empower leaders to work across sectors easily. 

Space is a new frontier for global management and Thunderbird is proud to be at the forefront. 

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