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The Space Economy: How Bold Businesses and Governments Are Partnering for Lunar Progress

It’s been fifty years since humankind first landed on the moon. And ever since then, visions of a moon colony have been portrayed in films, comics, and television. Though many suspected such a thing would never be possible, moon colonization may happen sooner than you think. It has moved from being a dream to a reality waiting to happen. Thanks to advances in science, technology, and communications, it is likely to be sooner rather than later that a moon colony will exist.

Of course, that doesn’t mean moon colonization is not without its challenges and problems. Issues related to power, communications, and mobility must be resolved. Likewise, creating human habitats in an environment that is less than friendly must also be addressed. And then there is a matter of significant costs. Despite these formidable challenges, however, the potential for collaboration between private and public enterprise offers great hope.

buzz aldrin quoted
Buzz Aldrin once said, “Returning to Earth brings with it a great sense of heaviness, and a need for careful movement.”

Sizing Up the Barriers to Moon Colonization

When it comes to a moon colony, some assume it’s as simple as duplicating the International Space Station. But in reality, moon colonization is much more complex with several notable obstacles. For one, sustaining power to a civilization on the moon must be addressed. Solar power is the obvious solution, but darkness can last as long as 15 Earth days. This poses a challenge given that battery backups cannot maintain power resources for such a length of time.

In addition to power needs, a moon colony would also need to address a living environment for human beings. The moon has significant radiation on its surface, and temperatures can swing 500 degrees Fahrenheit from extreme highs to lows. Also, the lunar surface has a gravitational pull about a sixth of the Earth’s. And the oxygen content of the lunar atmosphere is notably low. All of these factors highlight the fact that moon colonization would require serious human habitat developments.

Lastly, the costs associated with establishing a moon colony might be the most formidable challenge. For NASA, modern budgets approximate $20 billion annually. But the adjusted costs of NASA’s initial lunar launch in 1969 would have cost $150 billion in today’s dollars. Given that such funding is no longer available, alternatives must be considered. Fortunately, bold businesses are coming to the rescue making moon colonization a true possibility.

Chris McKay quoted
Not everyone agrees Mars is the way to go.

Advances Making Moon Colonization Practical

It’s no secret today that private industry is investing heavily in space exploration and aeronautics. SpaceX has now conducted several successful launches including its Falcon Heavy, which is able to carry tremendous payloads. But SpaceX is simply one of many bold businesses making advances in this sector. And combined with many technological advances, these developments suggest that an actual moon colony may soon exist.

Major advances in robotics are among the most significant developments making moon colonization more feasible. These would be useful in lunar surface exploration for resources as well as excavation for an actual moon colony. Likewise, robotics would be utilized for solar panel installations and the assembly of potential habitat modules. With greater capacities to deliver heavy materials via spacecraft, robotics represents the final step in creating a physical moon colony.

Many other developments complement these developments as well. Blue toilets, such as those funded by the Gates Foundation, could recycle human waste for energy and nutrient resources. Inflatable habitats, such as those that Bigelow Aeronautics create, offer a more practical basis for moon colony assembly. And 3D printing capacities, additive manufacturing, and self-driving cars all facilitate moon colonization as well.

stephen hawking quoted
The environmental crises we’re experiencing, is it a sign to start looking for those other worlds to colonize?

Financial Feasibility of Moon Colonization

Even with all the technological advances, there remains a matter of cost when considering moon colonization. However, private industry has helped here as well. Current estimates suggest that routine supplies could be provided to a moon colony by SpaceX Falcon 9 for $350 million annually. This would support a crew of 10 people. Likewise, an entire moon colony has been estimated to cost $10 billion to construct, comparable to the International Space Station. These figures are more manageable than prior projections.

Other financial incentives also exist in this regard. For one, moon colonization could serve as a refueling site for expeditions to Mars. Water extracted from lunar craters could be used to generate rocket fuel. In addition, lunar mining could produce trillions of dollars in gold, platinum, and other rare metals. And eventually, lunar tourism could be incredibly lucrative for businesses as well. Between lower costs and the potential for new revenues, moon colonization appears increasingly more probable.

When Can an Actual Moon Colony Be Expected?

Most experts predict an actual moon colony will likely be a reality sometime in the 2030s. But others anticipate moon colonization much sooner. Though greater attention is currently on the exploration and colonization of Mars, a moon colony is more practical. It makes sense that moon colonization will serve as a stepping stone to other space colonies. In this regard, a moon colony could test out habitats and life support systems more fully before implementing them in other environments. Thus, moon colonization looks to be the next “big thing” in space.

Of course, the U.S. government and American industries are not the only ones who take an interest in moon colonization. China is aggressively pursuing these efforts for both the moon and Mars. Likewise, the European Space Agency and Russia share similar interests. If these governments along with private industries could collaborate their efforts, a moon colony would certainly happen much sooner. But even if this doesn’t occur, it’s unlikely moon colonization will exist in science fiction alone in the near future.

Electric Scooter Safety Woes Continue to Mount — What Are Companies Doing About It?

Micromobility, defined as light transportation modes like e-scooters and e-bikes, has boomed. In fact, shared e-scooter and bicycle trips doubled in the last year, reaching 84 million trips in the U.S. alone. Major companies are also enjoying this growth with Lime and Bird being two of the market’s leaders. But increasingly, significant concerns about electric scooter safety are emerging. And pressures facing these businesses are rising as cities seek to restrict their services.

The introduction of these micromobility services is welcomed in many ways. Naturally, these micromobility transportation modes offer a way for urban environments to reduce automotive congestion and pollution. Likewise, these trends offer opportunities to enhance urban communities. However, recent publicity over injuries and even fatalities are highlighting the need for greater electric scooter safety measures. And unless micromobility companies become proactive, they may soon find their opportunities for growth severely restricted.

a photo quote of David King amid the fact that electric scooter safety woes continue to mount
David King gives a valid point amid the discussions about electric scooter safety concerns.

Taking a Closer Look at Electric Scooter Safety Issues

Recent media reports have a way of calling attention to evolving problems. This case has certainly been particularly true regarding electric scooter safety concerns. In recent weeks, YouTube star Emily Hartridge, a fitness and mental health advocate, was killed on an e-scooter in Britain. In Nashville, a 26-year-old man was similarly killed in an e-scooter incident. And emergency room visits for e-scooter injuries are on the rise—being 50 times more common than bicycle incidents. All of these has served to attract policymakers’ and the public’s attention regarding micromobility trends.

Nonetheless, while these developments are quite worrisome, some perspective is needed. Since 2017, a total of eight fatalities have been reported from e-scooter use. Electric scooter safety data also show that for every 100,000 trips, only 20 injuries occur. In contrast, over 40,000 Americans are killed in automobile accidents each year with 4 million injured. Yet, electric scooter safety is vastly getting more attention. Presumably, this fact relates to the novelty of these micromobility options and the underlying presumption that it should be safer.

In assessing the cause of micromobility accidents and injuries, all stakeholders share responsibility. Electric scooter safety analyses have found that operators, riders and cities are all equally to blame. Specifically, lack of helmet use, user inexperience, and poorly planned rollouts by micromobility companies account for some issues. Likewise, lack of protected micromobility lanes and poor road infrastructures are similarly culpable. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is being held accountable for these e-scooter safety developments.

a photo quote of David Spielfogel amid the fact that electric scooter safety woes continue to mount
David Spielfogel talks about the shift in transportation modes in cities.

Cities Are Pushing for Greater E-Scooter Safety

Across the country, cities are beginning to take aggressive stances regarding electric scooter safety measures. San Francisco has begun limiting the number of micromobility operators who can service the city. Texas is considering a statewide moratorium against shared micromobility offerings. Moreover recently, Nashville’s mayor attempted to ban all e-scooters, which the city council preempted after a heavy debate on the matter. Rather than investing in infrastructures and education, cities are preferentially choosing to attack micromobility businesses.

Perhaps one of the more aggressive stances against micromobility shared services is being proposed by Washington, D.C. In the pursuit of greater electric scooter safety, an Electric Mobility device Amendment Act of 2019 has been proposed. The legislation requires micromobility operators to maintain an active toll-free phone line for reporting illegally parked e-vehicles. Likewise, the companies must remove vehicles within 3 hours and restrict the time of usage from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. only. The amendment also requires these companies to provide the Department of Transportation with data and to be subject to fines for noncompliance. Generally, these are providing incentives for companies to be proactive in their electric scooter safety efforts.

a photo quote of Inez Tenenbaum amid the fact that electric scooter safety woes continue to mount
Inez Tenenbaum weighs in on the matter.

E-Scooter Safety Efforts by Micromobility Companies

Given recent developments, both companies Bird and Lime have taken electric scooter safety measures into their own hands. Over a year ago, Bird created its Global Safety Advisory Board, initially led by the former National Highway Traffic Safety director. Similarly, Bird also recently launched its “s.h.a.r.e. Safe Streets tour” program. This program will provide virtual reality and in-person safety training to micromobility riders. Also, Bird donates thousands of helmets for rider use each year.

Similarly, Lime has followed suit with its own electric scooter safety efforts. The company just announced its Public Policy and Safety Advisory Board to aid with e-scooter safety measures. In addition to policy research and regulatory advisement, the board also hopes to partner with cities regarding micromobility trends. The company has also donated over 250,000 helmets and invested $3 million in rider education. Thus, Lime hopes to approach electric scooter safety in a broader and more comprehensive sense as a result.

a photo quote of Charles Brown amid the fact that electric scooter safety woes continue to mount
Indeed, electric scooter safety and other micromobility solutions are needed.

Envisioning a Better Urban Environment

Without question, micromobility options provide urban environments with tremendous transportation opportunities. These involve not only reducing carbon footprints but likewise enhancing access to city activities and venues. Such solutions also reduce traffic congestion. And despite recent publicity, they have the potential to reduce human injury and fatalities significantly. However, in order to realize this potential, electric scooter safety and other micromobility solutions are needed.

For now, micromobility companies are being singled out to address these concerns or be penalized. But ultimately, operators, cities and riders alike will share these responsibilities in time.

The German Digital Council Cartoon

german digital council cartoon
The digital future of Germany is currently facing challenges, but efforts are underway to improve it.

Bold Leader Spotlight: Tony Hsieh, Founder and CEO of Zappos

Different leaders exhibit different leadership philosophies. Some have a leadership style that is highly engaging and dynamic. Others invite a greater degree of circumstance and serendipity. But few are probably said to adopt a leadership philosophy of happiness as their foundation. However, that is exactly what Tony Hsieh, founder and CEO of Zappos, chose to do. And as it turns out, this leadership philosophy has empowered Hsieh as one of today’s boldest leaders.

cartoon caricature of Tony Hsieh of Zappos, with his leadership philosophy, posing as the bold leader spotlight of the week
The leadership philosophy of Tony Hsieh is about empowering employees.

While Hsieh’s leadership has enabled Zappos to excel in many ways, it has also made tremendous impacts outside the company. The leadership philosophy that focuses on happiness as a common denominator extends its effects beyond Zappos.com’s employees and customers. And in fact, it is improving the lives of thousands in his community and society-at-large. Though certainly not traditional by any means, Hsieh’s bold leadership is clearly worthy of admiration.

zappos ceo tony hsieh
Success isn’t always about the revenues. Well, at least not for CEO Zappos Tony Hsieh.

When the Leadership Philosophy is Happiness, Culture is Everything

One of the important bold leadership traits involves empowering others and instilling confidence so they may reach their full potential. For Hsieh, this comes second nature. Hsieh launched LinkExchange in 1996 with cofounder Sanjay Madan. Without question, the web advertising company was a tremendous success eventually being sold for $265 million to Microsoft. But for Hsieh, the money and profits were not the most important. Instead, his leadership philosophy saw a culture of happiness and fun as being essential for real success.

At Zappos, Hsieh has insisted on this leadership philosophy as the company’s cornerstone. And he clearly demonstrates bold leadership in his ability to empower others toward success while instilling confidence. In fact, in March of 2015, Hsieh made Zappos employees “the offer” to be bought out of the company. Introducing a new self-management plan called “holacracy,” he wanted individuals to excel through their own creativity. Though 18 percent of the company’s employees chose the offer, Zappos has benefited since. And the culture of happiness has lived on as a result.

tony hsieh quoted
Part of Tony Hsieh’s focus is on individual personalities. We all are different and we work in different ways.

Bold Leadership in Challenging the Norm

Truly bold leaders are willing to take risks for the betterment of the company and for others. Likewise, they gladly challenge the status quo in the process, shaking things up. A leadership philosophy based on happiness might imply that stability might be preferred. But this is not the case for Hsieh. In fact, his decision to eliminate company hierarchies introduced greater opportunities for adaptability. And by acknowledging everyone’s “weirdness,” he was able to blend happiness and a change mentality together effectively.

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At Zappos, Hsieh’s leadership philosophy invites many practices that are certainly not mainstream. For example, he is obsessed with customer service, encouraging employees to spend as much time with customers as needed. The current record for the longest customer call actually exceeds 10 hours in duration. Likewise, he pursues relationships with vendors that go well beyond the bottom line and extend into social values. These are risks that invite change and demonstrate how unique Hsieh’s leadership philosophy is.

tony hsieh on adapting to changing environments
Companies have to recognize that adapting to changing environments is important for their success. 

Bold in Leadership, Humble in Spirit, and Committed to Community

In 2009, Amazon purchased Zappos for $1.2 billion. For many CEO’s that would be a game-changer in terms of lifestyle and focus. But for Hsieh, these changes were not what you might expect. Hsieh continues to reside in a trailer park in Las Vegas where he pays $1000 a month in rent. He shares the community laundry, kitchen, and pantry with other residents. And he enjoys sharing stories and playing games around the campfire with fellow acquaintances there. By all accounts, his leadership philosophy is a unique one.

Of course, Hsieh does much more than embrace a humble attitude. He is bold in his generosity and commitment to making the world a better place. His latest effort in this regard involves “The Downtown Project” in Las Vegas. Hsieh has invested $350 million in revitalizing the area through investments in both real estate and businesses. The project has already created over 1,500 jobs and made a $209 million economic impact for the community. This is just another example of how a leadership philosophy based on happiness can be quite bold.

tony hsieh ceo zappos quoted
Everyone has a different approach to solving problems at work.

Tony Hsieh and His Bold Leadership Philosophy in a Nutshell

Hsieh is a bold leader, and at the same time, he embraces a leadership philosophy based on happiness. In breaking this leadership philosophy down further, three key aspects can be highlighted. First, work-life balance and integration offer happiness and life satisfaction. Secondly, choosing a life path that is personally fulfilling and has meaning brings about joy. And being able to contribute to society and give to others further enhances these qualities. As a bold leader, Hsieh has not only pursued these attributes himself but also enabled others to do the same. Despite a truly unique approach in his leadership philosophy, Tony Hsieh is clearly among one of the boldest leaders in the world today.