Quantum Computing and Its Promise for the Future of Space

Dylan Taylor
7 min readJan 3, 2024

Space exploration has always embodied the pursuit of the extraordinary and unknown. From the launch of the first satellite to the exploration of distant planets, humanity’s venture into space has consistently pushed the boundaries of technology, and now, one of the most revolutionary technological frontiers on the horizon is quantum computing. This vital field can reshape the landscape of space exploration, potentially unlocking new realms of possibility in space-related research and technology.

Quantum Computing: A Quick Overview

Quantum computing, stemming from the principles of quantum mechanics, has the ability to revolutionize computational power. Unlike classical computers that operate on bits, quantum computers use qubits, which can exist in multiple states simultaneously due to quantum superposition and entanglement.

This property enables quantum computers to perform complex calculations at previously inconceivable speeds, making them well-suited for solving problems that are beyond the scope of classical computers. The implications of quantum computing for the future of space exploration are profound and multifaceted.

Quantum-Related Implications For Space

One of the key areas where quantum computing’s potential is evident is the optimization of spacecraft trajectories. This process involves complex calculations that consider gravitational forces, propulsion constraints, and various celestial bodies’ gravitational influences. Quantum computers can analyze these variables with exceptional speed and precision, enabling more efficient route planning for space missions. As a result, we can expect reduced travel times and fuel consumption, allowing us to explore distant corners of the universe with greater agility.

Moreover, quantum computing may enhance our understanding of fundamental physics. Simulating quantum systems, such as those encountered in black holes or quantum field theory, is a daunting task for classical computers. However, quantum computers excel in simulating quantum systems, offering researchers unprecedented insights into the behavior of matter and energy in extreme conditions; this could lead to breakthroughs in our understanding of the cosmos and create new avenues of research — such as probing the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

In cryptography, quantum computing could usher in a new era of secure communications for space missions. Quantum key distribution — or the use of quantum mechanics principles to generate advanced encryption keys — could prevent eavesdropping and secure communication over vast interstellar distances. As we explore deeper into space, safe and secure communication becomes paramount, and quantum cryptography could become a consistent asset on this front.

Fine-tuning For the Future

However, as with any emerging technology, space-related quantum computing also presents its share of challenges — namely, the ongoing need for environmental stability. Quantum computers are incredibly sensitive to their surroundings, and even the slightest interference from temperature fluctuations or electromagnetic radiation can disrupt fragile qubits. In space, where conditions can be harsh and unpredictable, maintaining the necessary stability for quantum computers is a formidable task.

To address this matter, researchers are exploring the possibility of developing quantum computers specifically designed to operate in space. These devices would be shielded from external influences, allowing for more reliable and accurate calculations. Additionally, advancements in error correction techniques may mitigate the effects of quantum decoherence, which is the loss of quantum information due to environmental interactions.

Another challenge lies in developing software and algorithms tailored to the unique capabilities of quantum computers. Traditional programming languages and algorithms are not always suitable for quantum systems. Researchers and programmers must work together to devise new approaches that harness the power of quantum computing effectively. As the field matures, we can anticipate a new generation of quantum programmers who will bridge the gap between theoretical quantum mechanics and practical applications in space exploration.

The marriage of quantum computing and space exploration holds immense promise for the future of humanity’s cosmic endeavors. Fusing these two cutting-edge fields has the potential to reshape our understanding of the universe, redefining the limits of what we can achieve beyond Earth.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Originally published at https://www.newsweek.com on January 3, 2024.

Dylan Taylor at the Financial Times Conference in London

About Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor is a global business leader, commercial astronaut, thought leader and philanthropist. Currently, Dylan serves as Chairman & CEO of Voyager Space, a multi-national space exploration firm focused on building the next generation of space infrastructure for NASA and other global space agencies.

Dylan has been recognized by Harvard University, SpaceNews, the BBC, the Financial Times, Pitchbook,CNBC, CNN and others as having played a seminal role in the growth of the private space industry. As an early-stage investor in more than 50 emerging space ventures, including Axiom, Kepler, York, Astrobotic, LeoLabs, Relativity, and Planet, Dylan is widely considered the most active private space investor in the world.

Dylan’s technical background, global business experience and unbridled passion for space make him a unique figure within his industry. As a thought leader and futurist, he has written many popular pieces on the future of the space industry for Forbes, FastCompany, Newsweek, SpaceNews, The Space Review, and Space.com. As a speaker, Dylan has keynoted many of the major space conferences around the world and has appeared regularly on Bloomberg, Fox Business, and CNBC.

Dylan has extensive global business experience as both a board director and CEO in several industries, including advanced electronics, finance and real estate. He previously served as a Director for UMB Bank, a Fortune 500 company based in Kansas City and as a mutual fund director for the Jackson Funds where he oversaw assets of $8B across 130 distinct funds. He has also served in the roles of CEO, President and Board Director for multinational companies like Prudential PLC, Honeywell, Colliers and Jones Lang LaSalle. Dylan was recognized as a Fortune 1000 CEO with P&L responsibility in excess of $3B and operations encompassing 15,000 employees in over 60 countries. In addition, Dylan has participated in 4 IPOs over the course of his career.

Dylan is a leading advocate of space manufacturing and the utilization of in-space resources to further space exploration and settlement. In 2017, he became the first private citizen to manufacture an item in space when the gravity meter he co-designed and commissioned was 3D printed on the International Space Station. The historic item is now housed in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Dylan is an explorer of note. On December 11th, 2021 Dylan became just the 606th human to go to space as part of the crew of Blue Origin’s NewShepard Mission 19. Accordingly, Dylan earned his commercial astronaut wings with the FAA and his universal astronaut wings from the Association of Space Explorers.

He is also one of only a handful of humans to have descended to the deepest part of the world’s oceans, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench as part of the Limiting Factor Expedition in July of 2022. In that mission, Dylan descended with pilot Victor Vescovo to a depth in excess of 10,800 meters (35,500 feet) into an area of the Mariana Trench that had never been visited by humans. Dylan is the youngest human to have been to the deepest part of the world’s oceans and crossed the Karman line into Space. Dylan has been a member of the Explorers Club since 2014.

Dylan maintains an extensive philanthropic impact on the space industry. In 2017, Dylan founded the nonprofit and social movement, Space for Humanity, which seeks to democratize space exploration and develop solutions to global issues through the scope of human awareness to help solve the world’s most intractable problems. Space for Humanity has successfully sent two citizen astronauts to space via Blue Origin including both the first Mexican-born woman (Katya Echazareta), and first African-born woman (Sara Sabry). Building upon his passion and support for the space industry, Dylan serves as a strategic advisor for both the Archmission and the Human Spaceflight Program and is a co-founding patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which promotes the growth of commercial space activity. Additionally, he is also a leading benefactor to the Brooke Owens Fellowship, Patti Grace Smith Fellowship and Mission: Astro Access.

Dylan is the founder and Chairman of Multiverse Media, an integrated global media company focused on science and technology, with an emphasis on space. Multiverse is the parent company of the popular space philosophy website 2211.world as well as the Ad Astra Dinners, a Jeffersonian-style dinner series featuring some of the world’s leading influencers discussing the future of humanity in space. Another subsidiary of Multiverse Media, Multiverse Publishing, publishes books by leading authors including Frank White, Isaac Asimov and Gerard K. O’Neill. Multiverse is also the executive producer of the documentary film, The High Frontier and the forthcoming film, Fortitude.

For his influence as a global leader and his commitment to creating a positive impact on the world, Dylan has been honored with numerous personal and professional accolades in recent years. The World Economic Forum recognized Dylan as a Young Global Leader in 2011 and a full member of the World Economic Forum in 2014. That same year he was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. In 2020, Dylan was recognized by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation with their top honor for business and finance, following in the footsteps of 2019’s inaugural winner, the late Paul Allen
and subsequent winners Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

Dylan Taylor earned an MBA in Finance and Strategy from the Booth School of Business at University of Chicago and holds a BS in Engineering from the honors college at the University of Arizona, where he graduated Tau Beta Pi and in 2018 was named Alumnus of the year. He is also a graduate of the Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century program at Harvard University.

Dylan and his family reside in Denver, Colorado where he is active locally with Colorado Concern and theColorado Spaceport. In his spare time, Dylan enjoys hiking, competing in triathlons and spending time outdoors. As a weekend warrior athlete, Dylan has more than 25 top ten finishes and 25 age group wins to his credit, and he regularly interviews world class athletes whom have shown extraordinary resilience as the host of the Legendary Podcast. He is married to legal expert, consultant and author Gabrielle V. Taylor with whom he has two teenage daughters.

--

--

Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor is a global business leader and philanthropist. He is an active pioneer in the space exploration industry