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“The only two things missing are technologies and imagination.”

According to Robert Mueller, Chief Technologist at NASA’s ‘Swampworks’ lab, those two things – technologies and imagination – are all we need to create robots who will be able to independently mine the moon’s resources.

This quote really resonates with me because although the ‘missing technology’ could be quite a big gap, it’s amazing how important ideas and imagination (not to mention belief!) have been in enabling technology to advance as far and as fast as it has.

July 20, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the first humans landing on the Moon as part of NASA’s Apollo 11 lunar mission, an event commemorated by a BBC TV program called Stargazing Moon Landing Special (hosted by Professor Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain, common faces on BBC science broadcasts). In the program they travelled to the starting point of the historic Apollo 11 mission – Cape Canaveral in Florida – where they heard first-hand from astronaut General Charlie Duke what it was like to guide Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the Moon in the Lunar Lander.

Obviously the Moon landings were a spectacular achievement, even by today’s standards, but look how far technology has advanced in just 50 short years. The phones we each carry in our pocket today are almost certainly orders of magnitude more powerful that the hardware that the Apollo 11 crew had to rely on in the depths of space!

Cox and O’Briain also learned how NASA is now working on a project which aims to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon from 2028, in preparation for the real ambition – a manned mission to Mars. (I think the 2028 date might even have been brought forward since the program was made.)

The robots being developed by the Swampworks lab are part of this mission to create a habitable space on the Moon. They will mine moon dust and heat it till it solidifies, creating solid rock called regolith. When the regolith is mixed with plastic it can be used in a 3D printer (also carried by the robots) to create, well, pretty much whatever is needed.

Thanks to robots we might soon be able to build a moon base using nothing from Earth but a robot and some plastic. Wow.

As computers, robots and other technology continue to advance and become more capable, obviously they are going to make many jobs and processes much more efficient. The Apollo 11 Command Centre looked pretty highly-staffed in 1969, for example:

When I was looking at this, I couldn’t help but think of the parallel with what we’re trying to achieve with Testimony, our revolutionary regression test automation tool for SAP. OK, as technology goes maybe Testimony isn’t quite in the same league as putting someone on the Moon, but our unique Robotic Test Automation concept can certainly stop your test factory looking quite so much like that 1969 photo and more like this 2015 equivalent:

It’s not unusual to need dozens of testers when running SAP regression testing in a traditional way – in fact, numbers in the hundreds are not unheard of. Testimony allows you to dramatically reduce that number by completely eliminating the need to create and maintain test scripts. Better still, it gives you more test coverage for less effort and investment.

It’s hard not to be impressed by the idea that there might soon be people living on the Moon. But closer to home I’m regularly amazed at the imagination shown by our small (compared to NASA) development team here at Basis Technologies, and the software technology they produce.

If you’d like to learn more about Testimony and how it could transform the way you approach SAP regression testing – or perhaps even allow you do it properly for the first time – please request a demo.

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