Supporting Sustainable Development Through Space Exploration

Dylan Taylor
8 min readFeb 2, 2023


Meet SWOT, the satellite that will teach us more about Earth’s water than we’ve ever known. SWOT is NASA’s Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite that will survey more than 90% of the planet’s water, from small freshwater lakes to vast ocean depths. NASA says SWOT’s high-definition instrumentation will provide researchers with an unprecedented view of how water resources are changing and how disaster-preparedness organizations can protect communities.

“The satellite will address some of the most pressing climate change questions of our time,” according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Some have said that humans must leave Earth to save it. Actually, we’ve been doing that for decades. Space exploration played a role in responding to the 1970s U.S. energy crisis, developed a method to produce biofuel from algae, and contributed to water filtration methods.

Today, the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals, all of which can benefit from space. Space exploration is fundamental to keeping Earth healthy, from satellite mapping to developing new fuels and technologies to expanding global internet access.

Here’s how space exploration will continue to impact some of those sustainable development goals.

Goal 3: Good Health & Well-Being

Space exploration has been instrumental in studying disease, monitoring the spread of vector-borne illnesses and expanding our knowledge of vision and cognition issues. As the U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs notes, microgravity benefits medical research through weightlessness experimentation and providing research conditions unavailable on Earth.

The International Space Station is a remarkable laboratory for health advances. NASA scientists are using microgravity to search for a cure for Alzheimer’s. Another revolutionary study explores how spaceflight changes an astronaut’s immune system, which could lead to advances in Parkinson’s and M.S. research.

Canadian medical experts are transferring robotic technology employed on the ISS to operating rooms as surgical robots. And scientists developed a new prosthetic leg, which runs more quietly and naturally, using components designed for the ISS.

“Space exploration is reinventing healthcare” is the title of an article in The Hill that details how studying the stressful effects of space living will lead to breakthroughs at home. The more time we spend in space, the longer we’ll live on Earth.

Goal 6: Clean Water & Sanitation

As mentioned earlier, NASA predicts that SWOT will “revolutionize oceanography” with broader and more high-resolution coverage of our water systems. With better water monitoring, we’ll learn more about how oceans trap and transport heat and carbon, enhancing our understanding of air-temperature rises.

We’ll also collect better data to address clean water and sanitation, which are essential to global health. According to UNOOSA, 800 children die each day from preventable diseases caused by contaminated water. Space offers the framework to change that.

Space4Water, launched in 2018, is a global platform for employing space technology to increase global access to clean water. Space technologies, notably satellites, can reduce the impact of droughts and floods, map water movements and track global ice budgets.

For instance, Space4Water highlighted how an organization in Kenya empowers women in indigenous tribes to use satellite maps to sketch out the knowledge of their territories, including water sources. Through the initiative, women can create maps of water and medicines in their language.

Goal 7: Affordable & Clean Energy

UNOOSA says that the sun beams enough energy to Earth in one hour to satisfy our energy needs for a year. The key is to harness that energy sustainably, which space technology has made possible.

In 1954, Bell Labs demonstrated how a solar cell could power a toy Ferris wheel. But the application’s first practical uses were in satellites. Now, solar-powered satellites collect energy for use on Earth, and solar panels, once considered extravagant, are available at home-supply stores. Space-based solar power could be the “next big thing for clean energy on earth,” according to Scientific American.

Clean, sustainable fuel is imperative in spaceflight. Future astronauts will mine resources on the Moon and Mars to fuel their transport. At home, NASA is testing sustainable aviation fuels that are more efficient and reduce carbon emissions. We’ll use the fuels in commercial space travel and rockets. Further, NASA is funding a study exploring liquid ammonia as a potential carbon-free fuel.

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities

More than half the world’s population lives in cities, according to the World Bank, which projects six billion urban citizens by 2045. As UNOOSA observes, significant challenges exist to maintaining healthy, prosperous cities without overconsuming resources. The data we collect from space is crucial to meeting these challenges.

UNOOSA points out that space technologies will benefit urban planning through precise mapping and infrastructure monitoring, and smart water and waste systems will improve city services. Of course, green actions, such as the Space Energy Initiative, seek to foster energy equity through space technology. And NASA’s research into rooftop gardens looks to temper urban heat islands and make cities more comfortable.

Citizens even can become stakeholders in these sustainability projects, as NASA is crowdsourcing solutions through ARSET, the Applied Remote Sensing Training Program. NASA has hosted ARSET training webinars for applying satellite data to sustainable urban planning, access to housing and transportation and disaster readiness. ARSET helps train everyday citizens from all skills and backgrounds to use satellite data to understand what’s happening at home.

Morgan Stanley projects that space will be the next trillion-dollar domain, primarily based on satellite broadband and rocketry. Sustainability will further fuel this growth. In fact, Morgan Stanley calls sustainability “one of the more exciting and underappreciated subdomains of the emerging space economy.”

Through its Artemis Program, NASA plans to build a sustainable lunar base that will eventually launch us to Mars. That enormous undertaking also will make Earth a more sustainable place to live.

Originally published at on February 2, 2023.

About the Author

Dylan Taylor with Victor Vescovo at the bottom of the Marian Trench in the Challenger Deep

Dylan Taylor is a global business leader, commercial astronaut, thought leader and philanthropist. He is an active vanguard in the space exploration industry as a CEO, investor, explorer and futurist. Currently, Dylan serves as Chairman & CEO of Voyager Space, a multi-national space exploration firm that acquires and integrates leading space exploration enterprises globally.

Dylan has been cited by Harvard University, SpaceNews, the BBC, 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 Accion, Kepler, York, Astrobotic, LeoLabs, Relativity, and Planet, Dylan is widely considered the most active private space investor in the world.

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. In addition, Dylan was a mission specialist on the 2022 mission by OceanGate to the Titanic in the Northern Atlantic, making him just the second human to visit space, the Challenger Deep and the Titanic. Dylan has been a member of the Explorers Club since 2014.

Dylan’s technical background, global business experience and unbridled passion for space make him a unique figure within his industry. He regularly speaks and writes about the future of the space economy and is sought after by the media for his expertise in the financial aspects of space investing as well as industry dynamics.

As a thought leader and futurist, he has written many popular pieces on the future of the space industry for Forbes, FastCompany, Newsweek, SpaceNews, ROOM, The Space Review, Apogeo Spatial and 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 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. 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, parent company of the popular space philosophy website 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. It 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 he was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute in 2014. 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.

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. In 2013, he attended 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 the Colorado Spaceport. In his spare time, Dylan enjoys hiking, competing in triathlons and spending time outdoors. He is married to 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