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share-imageThe Soviet Union built the first spaceport, Baikonur Cosmodrome, in 1957. In October of that year, Sputnik 1 launched and stayed in orbit for a few months. Since then, about 30 more launch sites were built around the world, and over 1,000 satellites are currently orbiting Earth.

Click through to learn:

  • When (and where) humans started building spaceports [interactive map]
  • Why Italy and France built spaceports in Africa instead of Europe
  • How to choose a site for a spaceport
  • Commercial applications of satellites

Presented at Ignite YxYY on July 13, 2014.

Talk track for the deck

You’ve heard of startups needing an “exit strategy” when they take venture capital. Like these guys from WhatsApp, who sold their company to Facebook for $19 billion.

But humanity needs an exit strategy too. Ultimately, we have to get off this planet.

Why?

5 billion years from now, the sun will be way huge and probably engulf Earth.

That’s a long time from now, but other stuff will happen in the nearer future:

  • Like an ice age in 100,000 years.
  • Or a massive volcanic explosion, which is also likely within 100,000 years.
  • It’s highly likely that within 500,000 years, a meteor at least 1 km wide will hit. Which would be devastating to life on Earth.
  • If you want to freak yourself out, consider that within 800 million years, there will no longer be enough carbon dioxide to support photosynthesis. That means no kale.
  • And even if we only have McDonald’s by then, all water will evaporate from earth about a billion years from now, because it’ll be too dang hot. An average temperature of 47°C means no more oceans.
So if we want to carry on breathing, we need a place to go that will support our life functions. Stuff like:
  1. Air to breathe and water to drink
  2. Agriculture for renewable food
  3. Mining and manufacturing (we need to put China in space)
I think the key to this is getting more business going in space, so more people are drawn to work on the problems of relocating part of the human race. So far we’ve got entrepreneurs working hard on rocketry, asteroid mining (kinda), and a Mars colony [edit: this was before SpaceX announced their Mars plans, but I was confident]. And I want to help however I can. Hit me up on Twitter if you’d like to talk about it.

 

Notes

“Yesyes.js” refers to a tech talk I hosted at the event featuring three JavaScript developers.

The “nametags” were temporary tattoos to make poolside introductions easier. (No shirt? No problem.)

One of the slides is repeated because I needed more time during that portion of the talk.