The Learning Mindset Needed for Future Jobs in Space

The pace and breadth of the space economy will depend on our capacity to learn and innovate.

High-vault ceiling, indoor waterfall. Sci-fi aesthetics.
“Transcendence” by Monica Hernandez. 2021. [r].

How do you prepare for future jobs in space? I have reflected on this upcoming scenario by explaining the importance of working well with advanced automation and robots. Robots allow us to transcend our current physiological limitations. We cannot withstand dangers like our robotic partners, so an essential part of our future in space will be knowing how to work well with robots.

Advances in Robotics are Key to the Upcoming Space Revolution | Hacker Noon
If we want to progress steadily in the upcoming space revolution and the continued commercialization of the space economy, robotics must be front and center.

Technologists and futurists often advance the concept of adopting a newbie mindset that favors a constant “becoming”. I believe this state is especially acute in the space industry. The challenges ahead will increase in complexity as our goals become more ambitious and our dreams get bolder.

George Pullen and I connected some time ago about the importance of a forward-thinking mindset that prioritizes learning. Learning and education cannot be underestimated. However, we live in a world where an abundance of information is a fact of life, so the question is: how do you curate the right materials?

Symbiosis: The Need For Stronger Communities in the Space Industry | Hacker Noon
No single space mission or space business initiative operates as a stand-alone. Space research, travel, and exploration challenge us like no other industry.

I asked George about his prolific background as the transition to my question.

“I have always loved learning new things and have always been a voracious reader. I was one of the first few members of my family of entrepreneurs to go to college and be exposed to different disciplines in science, genetics, physics, economics, etc. At a young age, I was blessed with the opportunity of working on campus in a genetics lab. Along that path, I discovered that I was really most interested in new technologies and the alternative markets they create. This led me to economics and finance, which gave me the tools to understand the future impacts of alternative markets. Next, it was during the dot-com bubble that I started trading on my own. So at that time, I never chose to hone in on just one area. And I think that’s because of the conversations I used to have with my family members who were entrepreneurs. They never focused on one thing either. They always saw what they were doing within a larger context and across disciplines. And so that’s how I did it too. I saw everything that I was doing related to the larger context and across disciplines. I don’t want to say that it doesn’t tie to what I’m interested in. I always want to listen and take in new information. Framing my thoughts at a young age like this mattered.”

Fishing roads set up on a vacant beach at sunrise.
"In the pursuit of innovation" by Monica Hernandez. 2021. [r].

I can identify with George’s renaissance approach to learning. I also grew up in a family where entrepreneurship and bootstrapping are traced back four generations. Family conversations about business advocated that nothing should be learned in isolation. Everything works in tandem with something else. George agrees with me on this. He outlined his views on the broader space ecosystem:

“Very few companies today are referred to as ‘Internet companies.’ As the space industry and space economy grow, it will be similar to what happened to Internet companies and businesses. In the future, very few companies will be referred to as ‘space companies.’ These will be regular companies, where space is part of their business. The people who gather the education to add value up there can be the ones who take advantage of this. Advanced manufacturing in space or lunar settlements, for example. That’s where the jobs are going to be.”

Perhaps one of the keys for younger generations, as has been evident for both of us, is learning about different disciplines. This mindset forges an acceptance of ambiguity. It also provides the foresight to assess uncertainty in productive ways.

A sustainable presence on the Moon, Mars, and beyond will demand a new set of skills, jobs, and professions that today may seem improbable and distant. But if this learning need is not taken seriously, younger generations across countries and cultures won’t start getting ready for it. Instead, we need to foresee our evolutionary path to space as a constant process of becoming.

Closeup of a large porous boulder at a construction site.
“ISRU mindset” by Monica Hernandez. 2021. [r].


Stream of consciousness [photos]

The high-vault ceiling and indoor waterfall inspired me. If we’re to become a multi-planetary civilization, it’s essential to transcend beyond the boundaries of Planet Earth.

Early sunrise on a calm beach usually sparks introspection and new ideas. An innovation mindset will help us overcome some of the challenges for building societies in space.

Adopting a bootstrapping mindset to leverage the resources available in space will be extremely important for making life sustainable. Therefore, a large rock abandoned on a construction site inspired my thinking about ISRU.