HOUSTON — The billionaire space race is much more than just a race. It also translates to big money and business for Space City.
Recently, all eyes have been on Blue Origin and Virgin Galatic. Retired astronaut Jack Fischer is now a vice president for Houston aerospace company Intuitive Machines.
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“It gets people excited about space which then drives investment,” Fischer, a former Air Force pilot, said.
The company plans to transport NASA payloads to the moon and set up a lunar spaceport.
“So bots then boots," Fischer said. "We are building technologies that we'll need, as humanity, to evolve.”
He said the company has signed about $200 million in contracts over the past two years as space tourism gained more attention. Intuitive Machines is not alone in the game.
“Axiom Space is also going to the spaceport and Collins Aerospace. All three of us have recently signed contracts. You're talking almost 1,000 jobs among the three of us that is coming to this area,” Fischer said.
In fact, Intuitive partnered with San Jacinto Community College to create the Edge Center. It provides students with trade and technical training.
“Composites, 3D manufacturing, the skills we need to build from scratch our lander. And, we've actually hired, I believe, five or six graduates out of that program,” Fischer said.
As space travel becomes safer and cheaper, it pushes a business model that space flight and work are open to nontraditional astronauts.
“You have to be less of a test pilot and more of a scientist to get the true value out of all of those scientific experiments,” he said.
Fischer said Axiom (a sister company to Intuitive) has two scheduled missions where the crews consist of one veteran astronaut and three nonprofessional astronauts.
The space economy is changing.