Elon Musk, Catriona Francis, Thomas J. Harvey, and Simon Saw-Teong Ang all have one thing in common. If you follow the space industry news, you know that they have links to various controversies.
Elon Musk accused US Air Force (UAF) of awarding a contract to Aerojet Rocketdyne to build rocket engines for ULA without following due process. According to Musk, the company got the contract because of Roger Correl, a former defense official.
In an almost similar case, Catriona Francis may have gotten a job with the UK Space company Orbex after awarding them a £5.5 million grant. She closed her own company Catriona Francis Ltd. to take up the plum role of the international liaison director at Orbex.
The corridors of justice are also fighting court cases around scandals within the space industry. The FBI took note of Saw Teong Ang’s communication with a professor from Xidian University in China.
A hard drive containing damning information came into the hands of the authorities. Saw Teong’s failure to report the communication was an indication of the possible theft of intellectual property. If the court finds Saw Teong guilty of the crime, the Arkansas professor’s prison sentence could be as long as 20 years.
Capella Space has been fighting a patent and copyright infringement case with MMA Design for the past two years. In the case, the plaintiff is Thomas J. Harvey, who faces accusations of stealing information from the company he co-founded. Some of his former partners are fighting bankruptcy cases due to his activities.
NASA, one of the leading space exploration companies, had to delay a launch to Mars for unexplained reasons. Citing a case of conflict of interest, the company did not divulge specific reasons for the postponement. They have, however, put into place stringent measures to safeguard their intellectual property.
Revealing Rot in the Sector
The cases above are a clear example of the rot within the space industry. There is a lot of potential with regard to orbit exploration. There is significant interest from international and local players.
International bodies such as NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), the UK Space Agency (UKSA), and the European Space Agency (ESA) are at the forefront of collaboration and innovation.
Governments from different countries are also playing their part to grow the industry. They are in charge of regulation, fund distribution, and final project sign off. Yet, despite existing regulation, unfair practices, theft, and corruption are still going on. Without actively taking steps to stamp out such issues, the regulating bodies are condoning the vice.
While public outcry over irregular practices may stop some vices, government, international watchdogs, and domestic players have a significant role to play. The space industry has as its principal mission, the betterment of humanity.
However, cases such as those mentioned above will distract from the goals. It is possible to minimize or stamp out the vices so that the exploration of outer space can continue on its course.