It is human nature always to dream big and constantly change the confines of reality. Once we conquered land, sea and even the sky, we looked up to the stars. Every child has dreamt of being an astronaut and having adventures in outer space.
Only July 20, 1996, humankind achieved its life dream to touch the moon. Two brave astronauts were propelled into outer space and landed on the moon. Neil Armstrong was the first human to walk on the moon and reach home safely. When he returned to earth, he quoted this iconic line, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.
He was right in every sense. His victory changed the face of space travel and inspired innovators worldwide to aspire beyond the moon. Here is what the future of human spaceflight looks like.
Launching a rocket into orbit is a tremendously complicated and expensive journey. Just the rocket alone costs millions, and with the added infrastructure and technology needed, the entire operation costs billions.
Five years ago, a successful launch would entail the rocket pushing through the atmospheric barrier without any damage, and if there are passengers on board, they reach home safely. The rockets were one-time use and would be discarded in the outer orbit.
Visionary entrepreneurs like Elon Musk dedicated most of SpaceX’s resources to designing and building reusable rockets. After years of failure and millions lost, on April 8 2016, SpaceX made history. They successfully launched Falcon 9 and made a round trip back to the base, safely landing. SpaceX has set the trend for reusable rockets leaving the rest of the world catching up to their engineering marvel.
This technology will create many paths for space enthusiasts. Commercial space flights will be considerably cheaper, and similar companies can utilise the extra cash flow to build better rocket ships. Along with the cost-benefit, it will also reduce space debris and space pollution.
The next logical step is to find suitable living conditions on other planets or moons. It is an exhilarating prospect, but the dying state of the earth mainly fuels it. Elon Musk and other visionaries are looking at Mars to set up a home.
In an interview, Elon Musk was asked how he was inspired to save humanity. He replied that he is no hero and believes humans will destroy the earth. However, Musk continued to say that he thinks of it as a practical problem, and he wants to ensure humans survive.
Although Mars is a long shot, so the moon is the next logical step. Musk, Jeff Bezos, and many more private organisations have shown interest in building a civilisation on the moon. By 2024, NASA intends to send the first woman to the moon as part of the Artemis Program. The key agenda of this program is to install infrastructure on the moon to help with the building blocks. This will lead the way to seamless commercial trips. Instead of booking a trip to an exotic island, you could enjoy a vacation on the moon and space stations.
The future is still uncertain but definitely bright. In the next fifty years, spaceflight is expected to be affordable and easily accessible. The opportunities are boundless, and to quote our friend Buzz Lightyear, “To infinity and beyond!”.