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Why you need to have a happy workforce

1st May 2024

Diary: Anushka Sharma on founding the London Space Network and the future of careers in space

Anushka Sharma


I left politics in 2012 to work in the Olympics, and that was the start of my self-employment journey. Many years before, I’d done a computing degree. 2012 was the year the UK agency was formed and that began my passion for space. In 2014, I applied for NASA Social, and took myself over to America for two weeks in January 2015. Here were everyday people who were passionate about space, and able to engage in it. My core skill is bringing people together and that’s why five years ago I set up the London Space Network, which brings together people from every walk of life to discuss space. We now have 1500 members on our list, and events sell out within 48 hours.


When we think about humans and navigation, and travel on earth, we’ve always used the stars to navigate but the opportunity of building a human presence on Mars and icy moons is a different thing altogether. It presents the possibility of the foundation of our human future. At the moment, only nation states through their agencies have managed to land on the surface of the moon: Japan, India, China, Soviet Union, America, and attempts from Israel and which failed. But that’s all changing and it’s now important for us to raise awareness about careers in the space sector.


The growth of the private space sector means that a barrier has been removed and space agencies can now focus on the science. As our presence in space grows, tourism, trips to the moon, and trips round the orbit of the moon and back, will become the norm. As the cost comes down it will open up huge markets of growth. Who doesn’t want to wear a pair of trainers that have been in space or products which have orbited the moon?


I think our space journey will be part of a much broader narrative of innovation which our children will benefit from. Take water processing as an example. If we can solve the question of clean water on earth, then why can’t we have it on the surface of the moon. The opportunities have never been more wonderful. You could do a Master’s degree in AI History of Art on galleries on the surface of the moon in 100 years’ time. This will impact every career. Human beings are curious by nature. We would be so bored if we didn’t think beyond our planet.


As we look ahead in this sector, it’s important to fight for everyone and make sure it’s as inclusive and open for everyone as possible. Currently there’s this duality whereby the rich can access those trips to Mars. It could create planetary political differences between those who chose to go to Mars and those who stayed on Earth. These ethical implications are the reason the space community needs to be as open as possible and engage with people from every background.

Looking ahead, I think we’ll see a lot of international collaboration deals between America, India, Japan and the European agencies. By 2040, we’ll have more of a human presence on the moon, but more of a robot presence too. We’ll also have a UK astronaut in orbit in the next ten. We’ll also make headway in going to the icy moons of Europa. In the next 100 years, we’ll certainly have a presence on the moon and on Mars and will be acquiring rare earth minerals in an asteroid mining process.


I’d like to see a United states of Space. We already have the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.. We’ll only do well if we work together. If we don’t we’ll just be transferring conflict into space. Let’s not forget that space has been used for warfare during the Russia-Ukraine conflict.  We have to think ethically about our access to space.

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