After a tiring day with a lot of playing and climbing trees and running from his mother, the child lay down in his garden at night to get some sleep. His ritual was to count the twinkling, shiny objects in the sky and dream about visiting those once. This dream was shared by every single child in the world. The bright light which were shiny and colorful blazing in the darkness caught everyone’s eyes. Some wanted to explore the darkness, while some determined to reveal the secrets of those blazing objects. This was the point where the seed to explore the space was sowed.
We began venturing into space since October 4, 1957, when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth. This happened during the period of political hostility between the Soviet Union and the United States known as the Cold War. It is believed to have orbited Earth at a height of about 250 km. It had two radio transmitters, which emitted "beeps" that could be heard by radios around the globe. The first successful human spaceflight was Vostok 1, carrying 27-year-old Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on 12 April 1961. The spacecraft completed one orbit around the globe, lasting about 1 hour and 48 minutes. The telescopic venture has also been great milestones in the history of space exploration. The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 2 was the first space telescope launched on December 7, 1968. Since these times till SpaceX’s latest Falcon 9, we have not looked back. What else can we look forward to in this particular are? What is the next giant leap for crewed spaceflight – and could 'space tourism' soon become a reality?
The future of space exploration is filled with both robotic and physical explorations. It will potentially involve expeditions and settlements on the other planets and their moons. We will be establishing mining and fuelling outposts, particularly in the asteroid belt. We have unmanned space probes communicating with earth from far beyond our solar system. We have technologies that let humans stay in the International Space Station for a large number of days. Private space agencies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin together make a global space market worth 400 billion euros. These companies have a number of different objectives for the next 50 years. From Automated and robotic exploration of the Solar System and beyond, Telescopic exploration of deep space to Crewed spaceflight and settlements on planets and Space tourism we are set to take a giant leap in the field of space exploration.
The closest celestial body to earth is moon. Till a few years back we were limited to its exploration. But now, missions to the Moon are seen by many scientists and engineers as an essential starting point for voyages to more distant planets. The Moon may prove useful as a space station or testing ground for humans to learn how to replenish supplies, before looking to settle on distant planets. NASA is even planning to establish a sustainable human presence on moon by 2028.
Minimising the risk of human life going to outer space with advanced technologies is an unparalleled achievement. The threat however remains. Robotic missions act as the saviours here. Artificial intelligence is being preferred and is considered a much better option. With reducing life threats to zero, the requirements are really less as the life support fuels are not required. Efficiency if increased to a great level and it becomes a much lighter load than that of a physical human exploration.
NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover is a prime example of this. Launched on 26 November 2011, the robotic vehicle landed on the surface of Mars on 5 August 2012 and has been exploring the Martian landscape ever since. It even has its own Twitter account, keeping millions of followers up to date with its latest scientific observations.
The last, the best. Space tourism. This is the most exciting part of the future of space exploration. People who do not really have much idea about the dynamics of space exploration, the videos of astronauts flying in the ISS makes everyone envy the astronauts. Almost all the private and government space agencies are planning on starting up on sending private customers up in space. Till now people are only taken up to the uppermost atmosphere pf earth to experience zero gravity. Also, the cost is not at all affordable for regular people. So, a cost-effective way of sending people up to the ISS and not just the upper atmosphere is something we must look forward to.
After an amazing walk here with so many ideas, we might want to know some projects that are planned to make dreams come to reality. Parker Solar Probe, all set to reach the sun in 2025. It will be an amazing breakthrough as no satellite has ever been so close to the sun and the data provided by it would be taking our current study of the sun to a whole new level. James Webb Space Telescope will be studying about the galaxies formed soon after the big bang. HX-1 a robotic rover. The main objective of the HX-1 rover project is to land on Mars and search for the presence and potential for life on the Martian planet.
This though, is just a beginning of the time where we can actually start living in outer space, make interplanetary travels and study them by being on them or near them.