North East manufacturers should “invest in space industry” following SpaceX mission to the moon, advises University of Sunderland lecturer

A University of Sunderland lecturer has encouraged businesses on Wearside to “cash in and get involved in space industry.”

Following the news that two citizens have paid a private company to take them on an orbit of the moon, Dr Chris Newman, who is recognised as a national expert in Space Law, has urged North East manufacturers not to ignore the growing market.

SpaceX, who have already received deposits from the would-be passengers, has planned to carry out the mission next year.

“Space industry is in a period of growth and this is where I think we can look on a regional basis,” said Dr Newman. “If I was somebody with a manufacturing company in Sunderland or manufacturing company in the North East, I’d be looking to cash in…”

The American company, which aims to send its customers nearly 400,000 miles away from Earth, has suffered setbacks in the past (which include a launchpad explosion in 2016).

“There is very little margin for error over this,” said Dr Newman. “They’re using a rocket that they’ve had problems developing. It hasn’t been properly tested to the extent that they would like.

“It’s due to launch later on this year, but I imagine any problems with that launch is going to set back the 2018 timescale.”

Dr Newman was also quick to play down the idea of convenient space exploration: “We won’t be seeing anything like commuting to the moon for a day. I think we’re quite some way off that.”

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