This article is written by Craig Beasley, a Space Decentral community member.
I was always that guy doodling spaceships and astronauts in high school English class, and people wondered where my head was. I was also that guy binge-watching Star Wars (back when there were only three movies) but also catching Carl Sagan’s original Cosmos series on PBS. It was also common to find me staring fixated at old Apollo documentaries like it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen (because it was). Space has always been such a fascination for me, and it’s been a focus for my life for as long as I can remember.
With such an obsession, I also made sure that while my high school contemporaries were working as busboys and car wash attendants, I pushed and prodded a neighbor to let me do drafting and design work in a high-energy physics R&D laboratory. It wasn’t work in the space industry per se, but it did get me behind a drafting board and learning how machines are built. As many of those at that lab were Texas A&M researchers, my biases were set, and I eventually made my way to that institution for my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology.
More pushing and prodding later, and not taking “no” for an answer, I ended up working on the International Space Station program, designing and testing structural hardware for the facility and also helping astronauts conduct successful spacewalks as a member of the EVA analysis team. I burned long hours developing reports on how to do jobs in space, and then saw those techniques tested underwater and in vacuum chambers. I even did a tour or two in the Mission Control backrooms, watching the astronauts do their job so well, and being so proud of our team helping them do it.
Along the way, I’ve changed jobs a couple of times, always chasing space. I’ve done small things, like component pressure testing, and big things like being a project manager within a team refurbishing the Chamber A facility at Johnson Space Center, in support of testing the James Webb Space Telescope. Nothing gives you such a sense of history as crawling around the literal guts of such a big, capable machine (~6 stories tall) from the bottom to the top, and know that you and your colleagues are tasked with improving it to a 21st century standard. Things like that have kept the fire burning for me.
Most recently, I’ve landed on the Orion spacecraft program. This work of the past decade has been, for me, very eye-opening. I’ve learned a great deal about technology and human systems interaction in my roles there, be it how all the structures and mechanisms must work together, or how subjective measurements for crew usefulness are truly valuable. I’ve been all over the country, developed many systems, tested them, and even watched them fly from Cape Canaveral and return safely. It’s also been incredibly frustrating at times.
That frustration is what has made me branch out to private endeavors over the past several years, and that has its rewards. But I want more, and not just for myself and my admittedly self-centered fascination with space as a tech geek. No, we need to get ourselves out there. We need to get Outbound, which not coincidentally is the name of my blog.
Our future as a species depends on humanity reaching for new ground beyond Earth, and who knows when that need will become an acute one? We don’t need to wait, but business realities have made us wait. Government space programs worldwide are risk-averse, or just flatly too poor to do what’s needed within the jaws of a ravenous bureaucracy, or some combination of the two.
On the other hand, what can be done in space has been historically too expensive and without short enough investment timelines to attract the kind of funding to really MOVE. So those of us that dream of Lunar bases and rotating space colony stations and asteroid mining and Mars exploration and… all of it? We sense lost opportunity.
Space Decentral represents opportunity regained. I do not profess to be a blockchain maven; really, I’m a profound neophyte. But in my high-level assessment, I see how tying intellectual value to the ability to fund and build space work makes a lot of sense, and I think it will bring in a lot more people to the community. It is the ultimate in bootstrapping, made available to anyone who wants to contribute knowledge, that may not have had access to investments in technology before. So many doors get opened this way, it’s somewhat staggering to comprehend.
As I’ve been particularly interested in a return to the Moon, I’ve been mostly working within the Lunar Odyssey mission on Space Decentral. For me, it continues to make great sense to gain a foothold on our natural satellite, and branch out from there. The Luna City development is a focus for me, and look forward to seeing it take shape with dedicated attention and enthusiasm. A big tool that will enable Luna City is a proposed idea for a satellite constellation for Lunar positioning, and I am trying to assist as much as I can on that effort.
I’ll always be more focused as a technical person, but knowing that my efforts at engineering solutions will add value to the Space Decentral’s program, that’s genius to me. I’m very glad to have found my way here.
Images courtesy NASA/JPL