A trip to space is the stuff of dreams, and it’s getting closer for the average Joe and Josephine. NASA isn’t the only show in town in the Age of Now. Industry has got a whiff of the potential and is accelerating the development of new technology that is going to make casual space travel a reality. The space initiatives of Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are well mapped. Out on the edge in New Zealand. Peter Beck, founder of Rocket Lab, has unveiled a 10-tonne rocket that is capable of sending satellites to space for less than $6 million. The current cost of sending a satellite into space is about $155 million. Jeff Greason, founder and CEO of private space company XCOR, says: “I’m in the private space business because I don’t feel like waiting 20 years for something to happen. So I’m focused on what can we start doing right now.”
NASA remains on the curve of creativity. In the article NASA Is Betting on These Five Extraordinary Ideas by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on Gizmodo maps the work of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts Program which selects concepts from researchers and universities and independent companies that should receive backing from NASA. It has just released the names of its next five Big Ideas.
A Mothership That Deploys Hedgehog Rovers to help NASA explore small solar system bodies, for example a small planet, moon, or even asteroid.
Orbiting Rainbows to build a massive optical system in space using huge clouds of dust particles so that NASA could see distant objects in space at a high resolution.
A Telescope Carried By A Sub-Orbital Balloon to launch balloons more than 30 feet wide into sub-orbit which would act as a reflector for the telescope inside, making it easier to image objects in space.
Looking Inside Asteroids Using Subatomic Particles. You could use this technology to, say, learn more about what minerals are inside an asteroid for potential mining purposes. Or, it could give scientists a clear picture of the size and makeup of an object that might be on a collision course for Earth, helping to generate a strategy to knock it off course.
Right now there are companies looking into space hotels for tourists. Can you imagine settling in with a Bordeaux and taking in the view? Could I do this? It would be unforgettable, no matter the tolerance exigencies. It’s the mystery of space that enthrals us. It grips us. So few have been there and those that have spent years training for it. We seek it because it’s so exclusive. So hard to fathom. So unattainable.
If space suddenly became attainable, would space lose its appeal? No way. There will always be further to go. More to explore. The possibilities are endless. I say light it up.