July 15th marked the 40th anniversary of the end of one of the most iconic “us versus them” contests in the space community. It marked the end of the period of space competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, which launched July 15th, 1975, was the first joint U.S.-Soviet space flight, the last flight of an Apollo spacecraft, and the end of what the public knew as the “Space Race”, which began in 1957.
In addition to being the first collaborative launch, it was also an opportunity to collaborate on scientific experiments that would contribute to the foundational engineering experience of future joint programs such as the Shuttle-Mir Program and to the International Space Station.
This leads us to today. The most important thing right now in the space community is to accelerate and decentralize innovation. The barriers that are being broken down today are between government agencies and start-ups and investors. Traditionally, projects were either in house, at a government agency like NASA, or in a close partnership between large commercial aerospace giants and government agencies. We see more outsourcing of innovation in events such as the Google Lunar X-Prize and the NASA Cube Quest (By the way, don’t forget to follow us in the latter contest!). This July 16th through the 18th, Space Frontier Foundations is holding its annual conference, NewSpace, in Silicon Valley about the future of the space community and commercialization of opportunity for start-ups and investors in the coming years. We think that sponsors like Google and NASA will gain a lot from these partnerships and contests. We are testing a few ideas of our own in the Cube Quest contest. We cannot wait to see what other competitors bring to the table! See you star side!