Climate Tech

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This article discusses current climate technologies, including green energy sources, hydrogen vehicles, electrification, and smart cities. Green energy sources of note include solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro. Hydrogen vehicles will be explored extensively, from a discussion on hydrogen fuel cells and engines, to developments in modern day. The importance of electrification will be outlined, alongside risks and future benefits. And finally, smart cities will be evaluated in the context of renewables, with the inclusion of new media technologies and case studies. Emerging economies will have to choose between 'being green' and being wealthy, one of the key dilemmas cities will have to face as they try to navigate the adoption of climate technologies.

History and Fun Facts

History: Space Race: The most relevant dates in space exploration are listed below, starting with a space race between the USSR and USA, and from 1990 onwards the nations were omitted since all the successes are an international effort of many people collaborating and standing on the shoulders of giants [1].

Neil Armstrong on the Moon in 1969

1955: Start of Space Race between 🇷🇺 and 🇺🇸

1957: Laika, first dog in Space 🇷🇺

1958: NASA created 🇺🇸

1961: Yuri Gagarin, first man in space 🇷🇺

1963: Valentina Tereshkova, first woman in space 🇷🇺

1969: Neil Armstrong, first man on the Moon 🇺🇸

1990: Hubble Space Telescope launched

1998: International Space Station built

2008: SpaceX launches Falcon 1

2012: Curiosity Rover lands on Mars and is deployed

2014: Rosetta: First soft landing on an asteroid

2020: First commercial crew mission SpaceX Crew-1

Surprising facts

Orthodox priest blessing cosmonauts

USA has astronauts and Russia has cosmonauts: cosmos is a Russian word word for space and thus Russian astronauts are called cosmonauts.

If you have a tattoo, you cannot become a cosmonaut in Russia due to rules and regulations that have not changed since the Soviet times. It is seen as a psychiatric deviation. [2]

If you fly to space as part of the Russian crew, you get blessed by an Orthodox priest before you take off [1]

One day on Venus is longer than 1 year! [3]

John F Kennedy is called the Champion of space for his contribution to space program and Kennedy Space Center is named after hhim. [2]

What has happened in the space industry recently?

Inspiration 4: Inspiration4 is the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit. The mission will be commanded by Jared Isaacman, the 38-year-old founder and Chief Executive Officer of Shift4 Payments and an accomplished pilot and adventurer. Named in recognition of the four-person crew that will raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, this milestone represents a new era for human spaceflight and exploration. Through this mission, the four civilians will be launching to space in the Dragon spacecraft, which is capable of carrying up to 7 passengers to and from earth orbit, and beyond. It is currently the only spacecraft capable of returning significant cargo to earth, and is the first private spacecraft to take humans to the space station [4]. Traveling weightless at over 17,000 miles per hour, the crew will conduct experiments designed to expand our knowledge of the universe. Crew Dragon’s 365lbs cargo capacity will be allocated for both crew essentials as well as scientific equipment dedicated to microgravity research and experimentation. Inspiration4 is committed to assigning the maximum possible mass towards this valuable research, providing access to space for inspiring projects that are otherwise unable to overcome the high barriers of traditional space-based research.[5].

Nasa probe to crash into asteroid: The first-of-its-kind DART mission, or Double Asteroid Redirection Test, is set to launch at 10:20 p.m. Pacific Time on November 23, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, according to NASA. Scientists are testing if they can use the collision to alter the orbit of Dimorphos, a 525-foot long moonlet asteroid that's millions of miles away from Earth and slightly smaller than the Washington Monument. Dimorphos orbits a larger asteroid called Didymos, which is almost half a mile long. The impact of the speeding spacecraft — moving at approximately 14,783 miles per hour — is expected to reduce Dimorphos' speed by about 1%. That may not seem substantial, but it's enough to alter the smaller asteroid's orbit, which scientists hope to observe from telescopes here on Earth. Both asteroids are expected to come within roughly 6.8 million miles of Earth in September 2022, and the spacecraft is expected to reach Dimorphos — and crash into it — around the same time. The purpose of DART is planetary defenseDART's ultimate goal is to gain information on how space organizations can defend Earth from deadly asteroids hurtling towards us in the future. A 3-mile-wide chunk of space ice passed within 64 million miles of the planet in July. And in 2019, a 427-foot-wide "city-killer" asteroid that scientists had no idea about until several days before it flew by came within 45 million miles of Earth. In comparison, the asteroid that ended the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was 6 miles wide. [6].

Russian space movie The Soyuz 2.1a that lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Russia’s spaceport southern Kazakhstan, was theatrically decorated for the first movie to be filmed in space. It ferried Russian actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko to the International Space Station (ISS) alongside veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, who commanded the capsule. Journeys to ISS typically last between 8 and 22 hours over multiple orbits around Earth. This Soyuz employed what’s known as a 2-orbit scheme and linked up with the space station just 4 hours after launch. There, the cast spent 191 days in space, and it is the first full feature film that is filmed on the ISS. [7].

Space Tourism

Virgin Galactic: Virgin Galactic is an American spaceflight company founded by Richard Branson. The company offers tickets for a space flight starting at $450,000. The firm hopes to start commercial flights in the year of 2022 after completing several more test missions. The price per flight used to be $250,000 , but after a fatal accident in 2014, the company decided to increase the price. In 2020 virign galactics made almost no revenue, with a reported loss of $60 million, however, virgin galactics is confident of the future, and is investing heavily in making space travel a norm. Virgin Galactic is also currently working on building spaceports. The spaceport will be valued at a $1 billion annual revenue opportunity. According to CEO michael colgazier, he says long term space tourism will bring 1 bill revenue per spaceport in the years ahead.[8]

William Shatner, Captain Kirk from the original Star Trek in Space!

Blue Origin: Blue Origin was founded by Jeff Bezos with the vision of enabling a future where millions of people are living and working in space for the benefit of Earth[9]. Blue’s efforts to fly astronauts to space on New Shepard, produce reusable liquid rocket engines, create a highly-reusable orbital launch vehicle with New Glenn and return Americans to the surface of the Moon. Blue Origin has been flight testing the New Shepard rocket and its redundant safety systems since 2012. The program has had 18 successful consecutive missions including three successful escape tests, showing the crew escape system can activate safely in any phase of flight.

William Shatner in Space: Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, blasted into space on October 13,2021, reaching the final frontier aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos‘ Blue Origin company. The “Star Trek” actor and three fellow passengers hurtled to an altitude of 66.5 miles (107 kilometers) over the West Texas desert in the fully automated capsule, then safely parachuted back to Earth. The flight lasted just over 10 minutes. Shatner became the oldest person in space, eclipsing the previous record — set by a passenger on a similar jaunt on a Bezos spaceship in July — by eight years. [10].

Starlink: Starlink is a broadband internet service, specializing in the expansion of coverage to rural and remote communities. It accomplishes this by launching a "constellation" of satellites into low Earth orbit via SpaceX rockets. Elon musk has developed a symbiotic relationship between SpaceX launches and Starlink where both sectors can reap the launches’ benefits. The service offers high speed, low latency broadband internet at 50mb/s to 150 mb/s, and latency from 20 ms to 40 ms. Starlink is also working on bringing this connection to ensure faster internet connections on planes. [11].

ISS: The International Space Station (ISS) is a multi-nation construction project that is the largest single structure humans ever put into space. Its main construction was completed between 1998 and 2011, although the station continually evolves to include new missions and experiments. It has been continuously occupied since Nov. 2, 2000. [12] As of April 2021, 244 individuals from 19 countries have visited the International Space Station. Top participating countries include the United States (153 people) and Russia (50 people). Astronaut time and research time on the space station is allocated to space agencies according to how much money or resources (such as modules or robotics) that they contribute. The ISS includes contributions from 15 nations. NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia) and the European Space Agency are the major partners of the space station who contribute most of the funding; the other partners are the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.[13]

3d Printing in the Iss: The International Space Station’s 3-D printer has manufactured the first 3-D printed object in space, paving the way to future long-term space expeditions. The object, a printhead faceplate, is engraved with names of the organizations that collaborated on this space station technology demonstration NASA and Made In Space, Inc., the space manufacturing company that worked with NASA to design, build and test the 3-D printer. [14]. 3D printing will help with the future of building space stations, and space colonies, and will also help eliminate scarcity, and delivery of supplies.

Crispr in the ISS: Studying DNA repair is key to future space exploration, which could expose humans to risk of DNA damage caused by radiation. Conditions in space also could affect the way the body repairs such damage, potentially compounding that risk. Thanks to the work of four students, a team of researchers, and the first use in space of the CRISPR genome editing technique, a recent investigation aboard the International Space Station successfully generated breaks in the DNA of a common yeast, directed the method of repair, and sequenced the patched-up DNA to determine whether its original order was restored. [15]

Intercontinental Travel (Starship): SpaceX is currently developing the Starship, a stainless steel craft designed to send the first humans on a mission to Mars. Another use for the vehicle, aimed at improving its feasibility as a profit-making machine, is point-to-point trips around the Earth. The power of the rocket is enough to enable a trip from New York to Paris, which takes around seven hours 20 minutes by plane, to take just 30 minutes. This incredible speed means the firm will have to cut back on some of the creature comforts provided to regular air passengers. [16]

Space Junk Business: The space junk business, which includes the space debris monitoring and removal market, has a share in the North American region of USD 321.60 million in 2020, and is likely to continue its authority during the forecast period, 2021-2028. The current estimated share value is USD 310.55 million as of 2021. [17] Most of the space junk is flying at very high speeds, and there are chances of unwarranted accidents that could happen, which will produce a dangerous amount of space debris, as well as disturbance to channels of neighboring active satellites. This signifies a potential threat to the safety of people and property on earth, as well as disasters that could happen. Astroscale, a private orbital debris company headquartered in Tokyo is testing spacecraft’s ability to snatch a satellite and bring it down toward the earth’s atmosphere, where it will burn up. As part of the mission, the company will test whether the space craft can catch and dock with the satellite as it tumbles through space at up to 17,500 miles per hour. [18]

Voyager Station

Space hotel (voyager and aurora stations): Voyager station: The Voyager station is set to be built by Orbital Assembly corporations, a new construction company run by former pilot John Blincow, who heads the Gateway foundation. This station consists of 24 modules which are connected by elevator shafts that make up a rotating wheel orbiting the Earth. Currently, the project is scheduled to be fully operational by 2027. The hotel will be similar to a luxury Earth-bound hotel, with spectacular out of this world views.[19] The hotel’s aesthetics is similar to Stanley Kubrick’s movie “2001:A Space Odyssey”. Apart from this, the hotel will also include warm suites, chic bars, restaurants, and the traditional “space food” such as freeze dried ice cream. Aurora station: The Aurora station is established by a Houston-based innovation fire up Orion Span, which is as of now chipping away at Aurora Station, a completely measured space station that will work as a selective lodging. The station can have six individuals all at once—including two group individuals—for 12-day travels that begin at around $9.5 million for every individual. Furthermore in the organization is accepting of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin.4LKM[20]

Moon Layer

Moon Base

Change-e 4 mission: On January 3rd, 2019, China became the first country to land a rover on the far-side of the moon. The rover communicates back to Earth via a relay satellite since it is located on the far-side of the moon, where radio signals cannot reach directly from Earth. [21]

Change-e 5 mission: In December 2020, China became the third country, after the United States and Soviet Union, to send lunar samples back to Earth. In this mission, it returned nearly four pounds of material back to Earth. [22]

International Lunar Research Station: These Chinese probes, rovers, and landers are missions to prepare for the feasibility study and possibly, the construction of a lunar base by the mid-2030s. These rovers are currently looking for evidence of potential water ice and lunar soil to be used for the construction of the base. As of 2020, China and Russia have agreed to jointly cooperate in building this lunar base and inviting other potential international partners to join their cause. [23]

Nasa Artemis Program: NASA aims to put a lunar terrain vehicle and habitable mobility platform on the moon by the end of this decade. This lunar base will serve as a staging ground and transit point for further interplanetary travel such as Mars. NASA aims to put a lunar terrain vehicle and habitable mobility platform on the moon by the end of this decade. [24]

In-situ resource utilization (ISRU)

ISRU is a method of feasibility research that can determine if lunar regolith (rocks, soil and dust) is suitable to be used for construction, extraction of water and oxygen for human use. Furthermore, as the moon’s magnetic field is around one thousand times weaker than Earth, researchers will have to find out how to shield the base from solar radiation. One of the suggestions is to build the base underground, in lava tubes so that it is sheltered from the harsh lunar environment. Furthermore, one day cycle on the moon is equivalent to 29 days on Earth due to its slower rotation. Therefore, building underground will give cover from the long sunlight days. [25] [26]

Moon Tourism

Circumlunar Trajectory
Starship Cross-section

The dearMoon Project is a lunar tourism project conceived and financed by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to become a member of the first commercial flight around the moon. This flight will bring eight people to fly around the moon in 2023 aboard a new SpaceX’s rocket. He originally planned to bring artists and his potential romantic partner with him on this flight but has recently decided to open the seats to public instead. This flight will follow a circumlunar trajectory which is to fly across the moon and use its gravity to sling back to Earth. The flight was originally planned by SpaceX using its Dragon 2 spacecraft and launched by its Falcon Heavy rockets. However, since Dragon 2 can only carry two passengers, the plan changed to using Starship spacecraft which is still in testing phase but can carry up to 100 people. This new spacecraft features private cabins, large common areas, centralized storage, solar storm shelters and a viewing gallery. [27] [28]

Lunar Mining

On Earth, Helium-3 is rare to be found, but it is abundant on the moon. This compound is used to fuel future nuclear fusion reactors on Earth. Fusion nuclear reactors produce reduced radioactivity, little nuclear waste, and increased safety compared to current fission nuclear reactors used around the world. Therefore, countries would like to mine this valuable resource to power their fusion nuclear reactors that will generate clean and safe electricity for their country. In fact, China, Russia, and India have expressed their intention to bring Helium-3 back to Earth for this purpose. However, no country has the technological ability to mine Helium – 3 from the moon and send it back to Earth so far. Therefore, innovation and economic feasibility will be needed to develop moon mining technologies that can potentially fetch three million US dollars per kilogram of Helium-3. [29]

3D Printing

In 2020, NASA started the Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technologies (MMPACT) project to test lunar soil simulant with various processing and printing technologies. This serves as a prerequisite in the feasibility of a large-scale 3D printer capable of building infrastructure on the moon or Mars. The realization of 3D printing for construction will save substantial amounts of money and time to construct infrastructure on another planet as materials are not needed to be transported from Earth. [30]

Moon Internet

NASA’s Space Communication and Navigation department had recently announced the LunaNet which was proposed as an internet network set up on the moon. The network is based on Delay/Disrupt Tolerant Networking (DTP) which ensures seamless data flows and reaches its final destination even with signal disruptions. This network will be powered by NASA’s lunar surface mobile and stationary systems, and lunar orbiters that will relay signals back to Earth. Moreover, in October 2020, Nokia was contracted to deploy 4G mobile network on the moon by end of 2022. [31]

Mars Layer

Facts about Mars

Habitat Dome on Mars

2 Moons: Phobos and Deimos [32]

6 Months: Time to travel from Earth to Mars [33]

14 human-made satellites: currently orbiting Mars [34]

3 active rovers: currently exploring the Martian landscape, 2 from the US and 1 from China [35]

April 19,2021: First helicopter flew in the Martian air [36]

Internet speed: 2 Mbps to Mars and 2 Mbps to Earth, relayed by orbiters [37]

Mars Colonization

Starship's Mars Mission Processes

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, proposed that terraforming can be used to speed up the habitability of Mars for humans. This terraforming process includes blasting nuclear weapons at the poles of Mars to cause the ice caps to melt and accelerate warming. He proposed that humans will live in glass-domes while this terraforming is in progress. The SpaceX founder also stated that tickets will eventually be around 500 thousand US dollars or even lower at 100 thousand US dollars per seat. This price also includes a complimentary return ticket back to Earth. [38] [39]

How Starship will get to Mars

The first Starship spacecraft that can carry up to 100 people (less if bringing cargo), will launch first. Then, a second Starship spacecraft carrying fuel for the passenger Starship will be launched. This second ship will then refuel the passenger Starship on Earth’s orbit, which will prepare the passenger Starship to continue its journey to Mars. Once on Mars, the passengers will disembark, and the Starship will be refuelled for its journey back to Earth. This fuel will be created on Mars using the ISRO method. [40]

Jupiter and Asteroid Belt Layer



In 1973, the first mission to Jupitor was launched, pioneer 10, and a year later pioneer 11 launched. These missions made huge contributions in our understanding of Jupiter by capturing images of Jupiter’s moons, observing its magnetic field, finding that Jupiter is mostly liquid and discovering its polar regions. Pictures of the Great Red Spot were also taken. The mission was completed on March 31, 1997. Since then, there have been six Jupiter missions, however no person has been to Jupiter. The current mission that is orbiting Jupiter right now is Juno. This mission launched on August 5, 2011, and entered polar orbit on July 4, 2016. The aim of the mission is to observe and gain a deeper understanding of the gravity field, the magnetic field, the polar magnetosphere, and Jupiter’s winds.[41]



It has been confirmed that there is water vapour on one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa. Scientists are also confident that there is a layer of ocean, possibly twice as big as Earth’s, lying below it’s icy crust. They plan to launch the Europa clipper in October 2024, and it will not arrive until April 2030. The aim of this mission is to confirm the presence of the water, as well as determine whether it has favourable conditions for life. [42] [43]

Asteroid Belt

The Minerva mission was developed by the Japanese space agency, JAXA, in order to collect samples from asteroids. It is possible to mine minerals and perhaps water from asteroids. There are many precious metals that exist in asteroids, such as iron, nickel, iridium, palladium, platinum, gold, and magnesium. Three types of asteroid classifications exist, C-type, S-type, and M-type. C-type contains the least amount of minerals, M-type contains a fair amount, and S-type contains 10 times the material found in M-type.[44] [45]

The first Minerva mission, which stands for Micro Nano Experimental Robot Vehicle for Asteroid, was deployed by the Hayabusa mission on November 12, 2005. However, it missed the asteroid, and communication with the rover only lasted 18 hours. Minerva-ii was deployed by Hayabusa2 on July 27, 2018, and was successful. Another rover was released, Minerva-ii-2, but it failed before deployment. The asteroid belt could be worth 700 quintillion dollars. It is speculated that a small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1.6m contains $20 trillion of precious metals. Currently, there are 711 known asteroids with a value exceeding $100 trillion.[46]

Saturn, Uranus, Neptune & the Sun


Saturn is a Gas Giant which means that it is made up of an abundant amount of helium and hydrogen. You can not physically land on the planet as there is no actual surface to land on. The temperature of Saturn’s atmosphere is -176 degrees Celsius [47]. The winds are extreme, moving at 1756km/h. To put it into perspective the highest recorded wind speed on Earth is 486km/h during a Tornado in 1996 [48]. The pressure of Saturn’s winds is so immense that it squeezes gas into liquid forms. Is it feasible for us to currently go to Saturn? No, the planet is so hostile and volatile that there is no possible way we can visit the planet. Alternatively in the future we could possibly harvest the ice and asteroids from Saturn’s rings. The process would accelerate Saturn’s already naturally disappearing rings [49]. Although, to do so would require a mature enough economy and technological innovations of which we do not have today.

Uranus, Neptune

Both Uranus and Neptune are Ice Giants. This means that their composition consists of at least 80% of swirling icy fluid consisting of water, methane, and ammonia. Similar to Gas Giants, Ice Giants have no true surface to land on. The atmospheres are both extremely cold. The winds of Uranus are 900km/h [50] which seem like nothing compared to Neptune’s record winds of 2000km/h [51]. One difference between the two is that scientists believe that there could be super massive hot oceans on Neptune. Flying a ship to Uranus and Neptune is not feasible simply because the ship would get crushed and destroyed due to their atmospheric pressures. The moons of Uranus and Neptune could be explored for water and minerals such as Neptune’s moon Triton. However, due to their lengthy distance from Earth visiting these areas would require an even more advanced and technologically capable society than that of Saturn’s.

The Sun: Space Based Solar Power

We can not physically reach the sun without succumbing to our own demise from solar radiation, however we can still harness the Sun’s power in space with photovoltaic panels, more commonly known as solar panels. The world we know today already uses solar panels to generate clean energy on both earth and the International Space Station. In comparison, space-based solar panels can generate 2000 gigawatts of energy per year which is 40 times more energy than a solar panel would generate on Earth annually [52]. The space-based solar panels are able to generate much more power due to the fact that they receive 24 sunlight hours a day, 99% of the year. There are no clouds, atmosphere, or nighttime in space which allows space-based solar panels to function much more efficiently than terrestrial solar panels. Clouds and atmosphere do play a large role as Earth’s atmosphere reflects about 30% of the Sun’s energy back into space before it reaches Earth itself [53]. It is a great feat that we can generate all this solar power in space but how could we send this energy back to Earth? The answers are Microwave Transmitting Solar Satellites and Laser Transmitting Solar Satellites.

Microwave Transmitting Solar Satellites

OMEGA Microwave Transmitting Solar Satellite

Microwave Transmitting Solar Satellites function by using giant mirrors to reflect light onto smaller solar panels at the center of the satellite. The energy is then beamed by a large antenna to Earth using microwave electromagnetic radiation. The beam is then received by a giant rectenna on the ground. These solar satellites are placed in geostationary orbit (35,000 kilometers) to easily keep the antenna and rectenna aligned throughout the day. Researchers in China have proposed a system design for this solar satellite named “OMEGA” [54]. It aims to be operational by 2050 producing two gigawatts of energy annually.

There are advantages and disadvantages to Microwave Transmitting Solar Satellites. They offer a steady beam of energy no matter the atmospheric conditions on Earth. The heat produced by the beam would be equivalent to midday sun. The rectenna on Earth would have to be several kilometers in diameter to capture the beam. On the other hand, due to the distance of geostationary orbit, the solar satellite would be difficult to repair. Finally, the production cost could be upwards of tens of billions of dollars (USD), potentially requiring hundreds of launches of parts into space to then be assembled in geostationary orbit. Although the costs are high, to build one nuclear fission plant on earth alone costs between $6 to $9 billion USD [55]. Developing a design that would only cost $12 to $18 billion USD would make these satellites economically feasible.

Laser Transmitting Solar Satellites

Laser Transmitting Solar Satellites function through collecting energy through solar panels and then beaming the energy back down using laser technology. In contrast to Microwave Transmitting Solar Satellites these satellites are much smaller and instead of having just one satellite you would have multiple Laser Transmitting Solar Satellites. These satellites would only need to orbit 400 kilometres from Earth.

The satellites would operate as a group producing in the range of one to ten megawatts of energy each. The start-up cost ranges from $500 million to $1 billion USD [56]. In comparison, the rectenna on the ground would be small given the smaller diameter of a laser beam. The satellites would also be self assembling, lowering costs and risks. However there is critical concern with the potential implementation of these solar satellites. Laser Transmitting Solar Satellites would be affected by atmospheric conditions on Earth such as heavy clouds and rain. Lasers can be weaponized causing concern amongst nations on Earth. Any unintentional misalignments would have the ability to cause harm. That being said, there are no current plans as of now to implement Laser Transmitting Solar Satellites.

Traveling Beyond Our Solar System?

Currently Voyager 1 is traveling away from the sun at 17.3km/s, to travel to the nearest solar system Proxima Centauri. It will take the vessel over 73,000 years to reach the outskirts of the solar system . It is undoubtedly impossible for us humans to travel to another solar system. We would need to be able to travel faster than the speed of light or create man made traversable wormholes [57].

Commercializing Space

Colonizing Mars

In the 70’s, Nasa predicted that we would move towards a space-based economy. As new technologies are constantly being developed, this seems like a not too distant reality. Space is becoming more commercialized, as private companies such as SpaceX and Blue origins, are sending people into space for personal enjoyment, and not for scientific research. Since private companies are allowed to take on more risk than space agencies, they can also launch missions quicker than governments. This could prove to be essential in the early stages of space tourism, as the ultimate goal would be to have the safest launch possible, however there does need to be some risk taken when testing the missions. The goal would be to have more than just astronauts in space, which would lead to a space-to-space economy. [58]

Business Opportunity

There are numerous business opportunities that come along with commercializing space. Mining could prove to be a lucrative endeavour, as asteroids contain precious minerals. As people start to populate space, first through tourism and eventually living there, companies will need to provide all the necessities from life on earth for space-dwellers. This includes healthcare and food, internet and communication, and transportation services. Living in space will require huge amounts of innovation in order to imitate life on earth, therefore companies will be looking for new and creative ways to capitalize upon this opportunity.

Current Obstacles and Limitations of the Industry

Elon Musk

First, there is a lack of public funding. The US spent almost $48 billion on its space program in 2020. This is not even 10% of its military budget, which leads to space technology not being incentivized enough to be developed. [59] In addition, all other countries' space budgets come to only roughly half of the US space budget, so progress is stalled on a global scale.

Second, there are lawsuits ongoing between Jeff Bezos (founder of Blue Origin ) and Elon Musk (founder of SpaceX). The cause of the dispute? SpaceX was picked to build a moon-lander for NASA, and Blue Origin deemed in unfair. While the lawsuits are being considered, no development of the lander happens, thus, stopping progress, which may benefit humanity in the long-term perspective. [60]

Third, there are sustainability concerns over space launches as a single launch produces roughly 300 tons of carbon dioxide per launch. This is equivalent to 65 medium-sized cars emitting carbon dioxide for a whole year. Therefore, more efficient engines and technologies need to be developed to mitigate the negative environmental impact. [61]

Fourth, COVID 19 has also impacted the space industry by slowing down deliveries and launches. This happened due to supply chain issues and social distancing measures. Smaller enterprises being impacted the most as they have limited amounts of capital to sustain long disruptions. [62]

Last but not least, the famous Biosphere 2 experiment sets a precedent for another major concern with space exploration. [63] Can humans build sustainable long term colonies in space in closed system? Biosphere 2 experiment had to shutdown due to increasing levels of carbon dioxide and dropping levels of oxygen. [64] It indicates that our civilization needs to take into account many considerations to ensure that humanity can exist in hostile environments of space and other planets over the long term. In addition, the social aspect of being in a closed system gave rise to major disputes among people inside Biosphere 2. This means that future space explorers need to be trained to co-exist with others over long periods of time and be good at conflict resolution so that missions are not threatened by disagreements between crew members. [64]

Life in Space

General Preparations

G-Force: A person must be able to withstand 5 to 8G of g-force during launch. To prepare for this, the person should practice yoga breathing technique of taking smaller breaths more frequently instead of taking full breaths. This is to compensate for the intense g-force that will make it harder to take full breaths and induce nausea.

Psychology: As the time taken to get to Mars is around 6 months, and the crews are the only acquaintances on the new planet, a person should be psychologically prepared to be isolated from other humans for some time.

Food: The person should also prepare to not eat food that might have crumbs such as bread because these crumbs can clog vents, irritate eyes, and contaminate equipment as they float around in zero-gravity. Additionally, the person should learn how to grow his/her own vegetables as packaged food sent from Earth is costly and take some time to deliver.

Health: The human skeletal and muscular systems do not adapt well in space as they are no longer needed to support your body against Earth’s gravity, which results in bones becoming more spongy. In fact, a six month stay in zero-gravity of space is equivalent to 10 years of natural aging on these systems. Thus, a person must use specially designed treadmills, weight machines, and exercise bikes to workout four to six hours per day to prevent this. Lastly, sleeping in zero-gravity requires the person to be tethered so he/she does not float around and bump into things. [65]

How to become an astronaut

In 2020, NASA received over 12,000 applications to be an astronaut. When hired, each astronaut is expected to stay for 6 months in space on average and execute around 250 research investigations for a single mission. Some of the skills that are required to be an astronaut are perseverance, teamwork, and on-the-spot problem solving. In addition to this skills, one must have either a graduate degree in technical academic discipline or a master’s degree in either one of; Biology, physics, computer science, engineering, math, medical, test pilot, or 2 years doctorate in these subjects. [66]

Future Jobs

Food Engineer: Invent food products that are enticing, and grow food in zero-gravity

Mining Specialist: Organize and manage mining of extraterrestrial resources and water

Media Specialist: Record, film, and memorialize space tourists

Additive Manufacturer: Create additive products in space

Holoportation Specialist: Virtually placing people from other places in the same room

Space Tourist Manager: Create and manage itineraries of space tourists

Space Architects and Construction Experts: Design and build structures in harsh environment of space

Space Medicine: Doctors who are able to treat different conditions triggered by space environment

Space Traffic Managers: Manage and monitor spacecrafts currently in-flight, acts like Air-Traffic Controller but for space

Smart City Applications

Concept of Smart Cities and Digitalization

A smart city is one that prioritizes the application of information and communications technology (ICT) to improve aspects of urban planning, design, and operations [67]. As smart cities began to evolve, so did its definition. The concept has recently expanded to include economic and social innovation, sustainability, and governance. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s definition focuses on stakeholder engagement, labelling it as a catalyst to improve overall well-being and building sustainable and more resilient societies.

Strengths of smart city initiatives include the opportunity to adopt widespread digitalization, and many benefits to efficiency, such as optimizing traffic fluidity and detecting leaks. The most commonly cited disadvantages include large capital investments, budget constraints, and the lack of infrastructure capable to handle this widespread digitalization. A significant threat of smart city technology is the loss of data, privacy, and safety – commonplace with most digital technologies. This may also exacerbate the inequalities among digitally marginalized groups. However, there are many opportunities to look forward to. It can be a source of inclusivity and efficiency, offer new perspectives and ideas with regards to sustainability, and build more resilient cities.

This opportunity for digitalization will transform cities across the globe. By 2024, up to 83 billion connected devices and sensors will collect data on air quality, traffic patterns, energy consumption, and geospatial data [68]. Digital tools can more effectively and efficiently analyze data, offer new and unique insights, and provide a foundation for sustainable policymaking. Integrating smart and digital solutions into energy systems can provide useful data, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning levels, providing real-time insights. This can then be used to balance energy use alongside maximizing comfort.

The concept of smart cities can be taken further – adopting a perspective on sustainability. We will explore the concepts of smart sustainable cities and smart renewable cities. Several cities best demonstrating these relatively new definitions will be explored further, providing a practical and tangible example of concepts in practice.

Smart Sustainable Cities

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) collaborated with over 300 experts to coin the term smart sustainable city. According to the UNECE, a smart sustainable city is “an innovative city that uses ICTs and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social, environmental as well as cultural aspects.” [69]

Vancouver, Canada

A tangible example in the development of smart, sustainable cities begins in Vancouver. The goal of Project Greenlight is to encourage collaboration between the region’s public and private enterprises, in an effort to create a smarter and more sustainable city [70]. This originated with the Vancouver Economic Commission in 2021, alongside partners such as FortisBC, TransLink, and QuadReal. Sourcing of ideas to develop smart and sustainable cities begins with these public and private enterprises, reaching out with calls for action and innovation. It is a membership driven platform between members and innovators to accelerate smart and sustainable transformation. Recent challenges the organization has pitched for innovators to solve include greenhouse gas emission reductions, incorporating digital technologies to improve municipal effectiveness, and transitions to renewable energy.

Brisbane, Australia[71]

One significant initiative undertaken by Brisbane City Council is the Brisbane Smart Poles project. This involved installing 20 eight-metre-tall smart poles across the city with sensor technology. These poles collect and transfer data into a central management system for further analysis and insights. Smart and sustainable technology being applied include LED location beacons, pedestrian and cyclist detection, environmental noise monitoring, climate monitoring, air quality monitoring, and Wi-Fi capabilities[72]. This contributes to Brisbane’s 2031 vision and is one of the main highlights of its sustainability goals.

Location and Design of Brisbane Smart Poles[73]

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen has made significant strides in becoming the world’s most smart and sustainable city. It aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025[74], with green targets surrounding energy consumption, production, green mobility, and city administration. For example, in 2025, the city aims for the use of alternative fuels for all city vehicles, a 50% reduction in energy consumption for street lighting, and over 60,000m2 of solar panels on municipal buildings. According to the Digital Cities Index released in 2022, Copenhagen was the top performing city overall[75]. This global ranking was a result of four thematic pillars, including connectivity, services, culture, and sustainability.

Other smart sustainable cities may include Hong Kong, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Singapore, and Oslo.


3DEXPERIENCity is a virtual reality urban planning tool designed by Dassault Systèmes[76]. Its 3DEXPERIENCE platform leverages current, virtual world technology to allow government, citizens, and other stakeholders to support sustainable city planning. 3DEXPERIENCity provides a digital universe where sustainable decisions can be made and the impact on cities visualized. Several cities have now adopted the technology, including Singapore, India, and France. Use cases from the platform allow for a plethora of urban planning decisions to be undertaken, including designing city parks based on data from shadows and vegetation.

City of Rennes, France in the 3DEXPERIENCity platform[77]

The 3DEXPERIENCity platform utilizes the data generated by cities and transforms it into a user friendly, 3D interactive visualization. It uses both building information modelling (BIM) and city information modelling (CIM) to produce these visualizations. This encourages collaboration from citizens to urban planners and government entities. For example, this type of technology could be applied to a new real estate development. All stakeholders could access the visualization, and simulate the potential pollution or noise added to the area. This develops well-informed citizens, and feedback could be given to council regarding whether to proceed with this new development. CIM can be used to also fight climate change. 3DEXPERIENCity is able to produce what-if scenarios, with the virtual environment able to simulate the effects of added noise, wind, air circulation, geographical risks, and physical threats[78]. This tool is useful to see the possible effects before actually conducting an action in real life. It can provide a digital model using all types of city-collected data, from topographical data to mobility data and health data.

Smart Renewable Cities

Deloitte has developed the concept of a smart renewable city (SRC)[79]. This SRC framework encompasses all cities using solar and/or wind power alongside their smart city plans. To be considered, these cities must have an existing, easily accessible municipal plan to integrate renewables and smart city initiatives. These cities also have greater than 1% of its energy deployed through renewable forms such as solar and wind. Under this classification, there are three types or levels of SRCs.

Types of SRCs

1. Biggest SRCs – Meet the SRC definition criteria stated above and contain more than 1,000,000 residents. Examples include Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, and Santiago. Adelaide, Australia has the highest proportion of wind and solar power among all SRCs in this category. Often very dense and large population centres as there is increasing pressure from government and other stakeholders to intensify decarbonization initiatives.

2. Purest SRCs – Meet the SRC definition criteria stated above and have solar/wind accounting for greater than 51% of the current mix of energy. Examples include the cities of Denton and Georgetown in Texas, and Orebro in Sweden.

3. Newest SRCs – Are up and coming smart city projects entirely focused on renewable forms of power. Only four SRCs currently meet this definition: Peña Station Next in the USA, Xiongan in China, Neom in Saudi Arabia, and Hyllie in Sweden. These SRCs have targets of either becoming carbon-neutral or using 100% renewable energy. In Neom, all essential services, including medical facilities, parks, and schools will be within a several minute walk. A series of communities connected using artificial intelligence is being developed, with no cars or roads, powered entirely by 100% clean energy.

Locations of SRCs

North America

For instance, the city of Calgary in Canada has a 5% share of wind and solar renewables in their electricity mix, while 10% of the electricity mix consist of renewables (wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydropower)[80]. The city has a goal to reduce emissions by 80% before the year 2050. Chicago, Illinois in the United States has a wind and solar share of 3%, with 5% overall share in renewables. The city has a renewable target of 100% renewable energy in all municipal buildings by the year 2025.


Barcelona, Spain has a 7% electricity mix of wind and solar power, with renewables making up 18% of its electricity mix. The city, categorized as a Biggest SRC, has targets to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 from their baseline of 2005 and aim to be carbon-neutral by 2050. Nationally, the country of Spain has a 100% renewable energy target for electricity by 2050. Manchester in the United Kingdom uses a 6% share of wind and solar electricity, accounting for a total of 13% share of renewables. Notably, the city aims to be carbon-neutral by 2038[81].

Greenfield Case Study: Neom/Oxagon

Neom is a region in Saudi Arabia, designed to serve as a vision for the future. It is an economic engine, built from the ground up, with humanity and sustainability at its core. The region is powered using 100% renewable energy. With its location being a six-hour flight away from 40% of the world, this makes Neom a key logistics and trading partner for many nations. One specific city within Neom is Oxagon, a blueprint for advanced and clean industries. Most importantly, the city brings together industry 4.0 and the circular economy. Projections anticipate that by 2030, Oxagon will have a population of 90,000 residents and house 70,000 jobs[82]. It is considered the largest floating structure in the world, powered solely using clean energy. Oxagon’s strategic location fosters global connectivity, with 13% of trade passing through the Suez Canal. The first residents are expected in 2024, with logistics in place by 2025.

The city of Oxagon in Neom, Saudi Arabia[83]

Several initiatives make Oxagon stand out from other cities. These initiatives include[84]:

1. Prioritizing advanced and clean industries

2. Developing a technological hub for research and innovation

3. Building a next generation port and supply chain, fully automated and integrated

4. Encouraging the development of thriving communities

5. Powering the city using 100% clean energy

Oxagon also prioritizes seven manufacturing clusters in its development. These clusters and industries include[85]:

1. Renewable energy – solar power, hydrogen (building hydrogen production facility located in nearby Red Sea), on-shore wind

2. Autonomous and sustainable mobility – green watercraft, heavy duty vehicles, autonomous shuttles

3. Modern construction – 3D printing, sustainable steel, zero emission machinery

4. Water innovation – wastewater treatment, management, desalination

5. Sustainable food production – sustainable packaging, greenhouse use, meat alternatives

6. Health and well-being – biotechnology, medicine, nutrition

7. Technology and digital – robots, 5G infrastructure, space exploration, advanced equipment

Oxagon's circular economy philosophy[86]

Renewables and Smart City Goals

There are three ways renewable energy can contribute to the goals and objectives of smart cities across the globe: economic growth, sustainability, and quality of life[87].

SRCs help promote economic growth as renewables are competitive and conducive to job creation and innovation. In markets where most of the SRCs are located, the cost of adopting renewables compared to conventional sources is almost equivalent. Utility companies may soon realize that adopting renewables into the city’s electricity mix is much more efficient and cheaper than using conventional methods. Benefits seen in Georgetown, one of the Purest SRCs, were significant – electricity costs decreased, gas prices dropped, and the need for storage was reduced. This ensured renewable power was affordable, reliable, and sustainable. Another benefit in the economic growth category would be the ability to attract companies pursuing the use of renewables and therefore providing green jobs for citizens. Several companies showed interest in moving their operations to Georgetown immediately after the city announced plans for the significant adoption of renewable energy. Deploying renewables are seen as an opportunity to create local jobs and can be used as a value proposition to attract new talent. The final benefit in economic growth is the encouragement of innovation through renewable business incubators. Many SRCs foster innovation with the integration of renewable microgrid technology, developing net-zero communities and enhancing reliability.

World's first road that recharges electric trucks in Sweden[88]

Buildings powered using renewable energy and investments in electric mobility are ways that SRCs can stimulate sustainability. Sustainability goals include managing energy from smart renewable-powered buildings, recycling and using alternatives to building power plants, and using zero-emissions energy to reduce carbon footprint. Using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, smart buildings can be built with solar panels, smart meters, and smart thermostats. Cities have considered producing their own renewable power, installing solar panels on residential properties connected to a central power grid. Distributing renewable energy and focusing on clean mobility are other key priorities for SRCs. Renewables can be harnessed from many sources, powering local transit systems and electric vehicle charging stations. The electrification of renewables requires input from key stakeholders, including utilities, government, and the automotive industry. Most notably, a significant advancement in electrification occurred in Sweden. A fully electrified road was built, providing a tangible solution for dense urban cities. These electrified pathways allow for consistent charging of electric vehicles and will likely be part of urban development and mobility in the years ahead.

Last but not least, SRCs provide a higher quality of life. One of the main initiatives of SRCs is the distribution and accessibility of renewables, primarily focusing on households with lower incomes. Cities have expanded the use of renewables and are making them much easier to obtain. Several cities have taken the extra step and subsidized the use of renewables by lowering initial building costs. Utilities have absorbed the costs associated with installation, insurance, and maintenance, in exchange for the expansion of renewables and rooftop space. SRCs that have adopted 100% renewables are integrating this into their urban design. Initiatives that many cities have undertaken include the introduction of car-free areas and related legislation, creating zero-emission zones and city centres, and limiting the use of combustion engines[89]. Only through these ambitious targets and stakeholder involvement will we see smart cities transformed into ones with economic growth, sustainability, and quality of life top of mind.

Deloitte's urban future equation that urban definitions, goals, and foundations should focus on[90]


Wilson Wan Brendan Wong Stephen Wong Cynthia Xuan
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada


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