Innovations Combining Technology and Space
By Space Coast Daily // November 17, 2023
Here on the Space Coast, there’s one thing we can all appreciate – the enigma that is space, and the efforts made to explore it (it’s how we got our name after all).
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at a couple of innovations that unite technology and space, which might well come to the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station one day in the future.
Big Bang RNG
Firstly, let’s check out how space itself can be utilized for different technological applications – namely, for random number generation (RNG). If you’re unfamiliar with RNGs, these pieces of software or hardware generate a series of random numbers that have no relation to the others in the sequence. Put simply, it’s like rolling a dice, choosing a card, or spinning a wheel – that’s why RNGs are often utilized by online casinos. For example, if you are trying your hand at online roulette for real cash, undeterminable numbers are chosen by RNGs to represent where the ball lands on the roulette wheel. In doing so, this ensures that the gameplay is immersive, authentic, and fair, as the results are purely down to chance.
As these numbers are not predetermined or intelligible, another application of RNGs is in cryptography. With cryptography, the stakes are high, as it is important to ensure that sequences cannot be worked out with a function. Though cryptographically secure pseudorandom number generators (CPRNGs) or quantum random number generators (QRNGs) are perhaps the most common of these RNGs, the most secure answer might actually be found in space. In fact, it has been theorized that cosmic microwave background radiation – otherwise known as the echo of the Big Bang – could be utilized via a telescope to create quantum bits, providing an RNG that could beat anything currently available. Further to this, it has been proposed that this could provide enough random numbers to encrypt unlimited devices for eternity!
Moving now to new space exploration technologies, a reusable ‘spaceplane’ intended to send supplies to the International Space Station is reportedly almost ready for takeoff. The spaceplane, Dream Chaser, has been in the works for Sierra Space for many years – first as a crewed varieant, before they settled on a robotic cargo vehicle. Inspired by the HL-20 Personnel Launch System concept by NASA, the Dream Chaser has been designed for vertical launch carrying pressurized and unpressurized cargo, and then to land horizontally on a traditional airplane runway.
More specifically, Dream Chaser will first be tested at the Neil A. Armstrong Test Facility in Ohio, which is expected to be completed around March 2024. Dream Catcher will then be launched for the first time at Kennedy Space Center here on the Space Coast on a Vulcan Centaur rocket. On its return, it will land back at the Kennedy Space Center, this time on the runway at the Launch and Landing Facility.
With technology-driven research and development, particularly from newer players like SpaceX, it is clear that the relationship between technology and space will become more and more interconnected in the future. The implications of this is huge – but we’ll have to wait and see which innovations make it here to the Space Coast.