Did you know it costs around 500 million dollars to fly a shuttle into space? From the Apollo missions to the Voyager 1 probe, humankind has achieved significant achievements in space exploration.
However, we are still in the initial stage of space exploration. There are a lot of questions that are still unanswered. So, keep reading this article to learn about the latest trends and the future of space exploration.
Orbital and suborbital space exploration
You must have heard of the dog named Laika. He was the first living being to enter Earth orbit in 1957. After that, we launched 622 astronauts and an International Space Station into Earth orbit. It highlights that we have only moved forward.
The current trend in this sector is to develop reusable rockets and attain hypersonic travel speed. Reusable rockets can change the landscape of the space exploration industry for the better.
It is because reusable rockets drastically reduce the cost of space travel, and space exploration missions can happen in a shorter time and at a lower expenditure. It will eventually pave the way for commercial space exploration missions to the Earth orbit and sub-orbit.
Secondly, hypersonic travel speed will also play a significant role in space exploration. It is because it will enable a faster journey to Earth’s orbit. In addition to that, reusable rockets and hypersonic travel will also provide speedy and cost-effective space journeys to the International Space Station.
Companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin will deliver NASA reusable rockets in the future soon. These companies have successfully launched and landed reusable rockets. However, the only thing left is the final product. So, in the future, a wider population will go on space exploration to the Earth’s orbit. Space, therefore, will soon become a tourist spot.
Space exploration to the moon and neighboring planets
The main milestone for space exploration occurred in 1969 when humans first landed on the moon. Since then, 12 astronauts have walked on the moon. This number is still low as it has been more than 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission. Space agencies like NASA have therefore reignited their focus on the moon. But they have also planned other space missions to neighboring planets.
NASA is eyeing to land more people on the moon in the coming years. The Project Artemis is the first lunar mission of NASA in decades. Similarly, the space agencies of India and Russia will also launch space missions to the moon. In addition, China is planning a joint mission with Russia to establish a lunar base on the moon by 2035.
Also, while space agencies are planning for missions to the moon, the main objective remains to land humans on Mars. But space missions to Mars are more challenging than the Moon. It is because it takes 6 to 9 months to reach Mars from Earth. And carrying humans and their food for the whole mission will make the spacecraft heavier. Thus, it will be very challenging to land a heavy spacecraft on Mars because of its thin atmosphere.
However, NASA received presidential orders to land humans on Mars by 2035. NASA, therefore, is developing a massive sail and working on nuclear propulsion fuel to make the “humans on Mars” dream a reality.
Also, NASA and other space agencies are launching space probes to explore Venus. Thus, missions for space exploration of the moon and neighboring planets are in full swing currently.
While SpaceX claims that it will land humans on Mars by 2024, it looks like “humans on Mars” will not be possible before the 2030s. But in the coming decades, humanity will surely make that leap and land on Mars.
However, the situation is entirely different in the case of the moon. With Artemis III, a new era of lunar travel will begin. And, if everything goes as planned, humankind will have its first lunar base by the 2030s.
Deep space exploration
Even though humanity is showing impressive progression, deep space exploration is still a distinct dream. It is because the technology needed for deep space exploration needs to be far superior to our current technology. That being said, we still are hopeful and therefore, are working on developing technologies for deep space travel.
The current trend is to explore deep space through unmanned space probes. For example, probes like Cassini, Galileo, and Juno have been orbiting the outer planets and collecting data from them.
Similar unmanned probes like the JUICE, are planned to launch soon to further study the outer solar system. But only when humans can safely travel to Mars, space agencies will start planning to send humans to the outer solar system.
Right now, deep space travel doesn’t seem like a possibility. We are lacking the technology to carry out such challenging missions. But, looking at the rate at which we are advancing, deep space exploration can become a reality for humans before the end of this century.
What is the future of space travel
The journey of humankind in space has been truly remarkable. From launching the first satellite into space in 1957 to preparing spacecraft to land on Mars, we have come a long way.
However, the future of space exploration is still uncertain. Anything can go south in space, and thus, only time will tell how successful will humans be to tackle the challenges of space exploration.