The UAE Is Giving Away $500K for 'Innovative High-Risk' Space Projects
When Elon Musk launches a car into space, it's time to step up your space exploration game. Luckily for the United Arab Emirates, they've got enough cash to match Musk's crazy, ambitious projects: the Dubai Future Foundation has announced $500,000 in grants for proposals related to "space settlements, terraforming and space ecology" and "business models and governance issues." Proposals aren't limited to physicists and aerospace engineers, however—social scientists, designers and artists are all encouraged to send in ideas, especially if they're moonshots.
According to the official site:
"The fund welcomes exploratory proposals from all areas of research pursuing new concepts, solutions, and business models for living and working in space, the Moon, and on Mars. Innovative high-risk, high-reward projects that would be difficult to fund otherwise are preferred."
So if you've got a plan for a functioning Bernal sphere, a dystopian technocracy on the Moon, or a plan to splice human DNA with cockroaches to make radiation-resistant space colonists, here's your chance. Though the total grant fund is only half a million dollars, that's enough to kick-start some research. The UAE is planning to have a colony on Mars by 2117, which they're preparing for by building a giant simulated Martian "Science City" on the outskirts of Dubai, so you can believe that they've got the resources to put your incredibly ambitious plan into action.
The call for applications coincides with the recent surge in excitement over asteroid mining, space exploration, and colonization—private space companies received over $4 billion in investments last year, and Morgan Stanley predicts that the space industry is set to take off within the next few decades, rising to a total worth of around $1.1 trillion by the year 2040.
The US policy toward space innovation is changing too—General John Hyten has stated that we need to abandon the idea that failure is not an option:
"We've lost the ability to go fast, test, and fail. We tie the hands of our engineers and acquisition folk because we expect every test to work and if it doesn't work it's on the front page of the newspaper. We have got to get back to where we accept risk."
At this rate, space exploration and colonization is going to stop being a careful tip-toe toward the stars—it'll be an expensive, explosive race to see who makes the biggest breakthroughs first.