As a child, I would dream about what it would be like to live on another planet, visit the Moon, or zoom through the stars. Movies like Star Wars, Star Trek and Avatar, inspire us and allow our imaginations to indulge in these seemingly ‘unattainable’ space-fantasies.
David H. Grinspoon, American astrobiologist states, “As long as we are a single-planet species, we are vulnerable to extinction by a planet-wide catastrophe, natural or self-induced. Once we become a multi-planet species, our chances to live long and prosper will take a huge leap skyward.”
Grinspoon clearly outlines how becoming a multi-planet species is the key to our survival. Dreams of life beyond planet Earth are becoming more of a reality than ever before; perhaps we should all start learning Klingon? From NASA’s Artemis program to Elon’s Mission to Mars, in this article, we will explore the latest innovations inspiring the space industry.
Artemis – Back to the Moon
Exciting times lie ahead for humanity with NASA looking to land people on the Moon by 2024, through their latest space program, Artemis. NASA is set to work with commercial partners on a two-phase mission. Firstly, the initial Moon landing will prompt the set-up of specialized technology and key construction to trigger the second phase, designed to sustainably support human life on a Moon-base, as soon as 2028. Once a human presence is established on the Moon, the idea is to use the Moon as a refueling station, supporting future space operations, in particular, missions to Mars.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine states, “President Donald Trump has asked NASA to accelerate our plans to return to the Moon and land humans on the surface again by 2024. We will go with innovative new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the surface than was ever thought possible. This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay. And then we will use what we learn on the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.”
For NASA and its key partners to ensure the success of the Artemis program, a well-devised plan is in place. As you can imagine, space exploration isn’t cheap, with an additional $30 billion on top of the previous budget, approved by President Trump. With a budget secured, developing the latest sustainable space technology is underway and being tested to support the program. Secure space transport and logistics systems are essential for the mission, as is the health and safety of all personnel. At present, there isn’t enough data outlining the impact the Moon may have on the human body and immune system. Therefore health and well-being protocols must be carefully managed. Missions of this caliber are complex; nurturing and sustaining human life on the Moon for prolonged periods is a priority for all involved and is key to the overall success of the Artemis program.
SpaceX – Mission to Mars
“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than in the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars” says SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk.
For Musk to succeed with his ambitious mission to Mars, he first needs to station on the Moon, await the ideal planetary alignment, before taking the plunge and boosting to the red planet. Musk plans to have his crew land on the Moon by 2023, set to establish a Mars base by 2028. A few uncrewed cargo ships will land on Mars before a human landing, to take all of the necessary supplies to sustain life on the planet. Elon’s plans support NASA’s Artemis program and vice versa. The Starship and the Super Heavy Rocket are the specially designed craft intended for this unique mission. Musk states, “We want to open up space for humanity, and in order to do that, space must be affordable.” In the future, Elon is determined to make space travel more affordable and accessible to the average man, woman, and child, setting humanity up to become a multi-planet species.
The future is bright, with NASA, SpaceX, and Musk pushing humanity forward into uncharted territory, providing us with significant opportunities for exploration, adventure, and growth. Childhood dreams of life in space are now on the horizon, as we venture into the unknown, and evolve into a galactic race. It’s clear; Earth is facing extinction with climate change, war, and famine plaguing us; let’s pray we find some answers in the stars.