Just last week, Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully landed a high-altitude rocket. This followed a string of failures in the greater quest to create a reusable Mars rocket. In other news, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is in the works to produce oxygen from the moon; the China National Space Administration (CNSA) developed an out-of-control rocket expected to fall to Earth sometime this weekend (where exactly it’ll hit; nobody knows); and a space helicopter named Ingenuity in Mars flew to its next landing site, making it the fourth flight in its mission.
Clearly, our knowledge about the world beyond us is expanding impressively but is still considered meager. Technology aims to combat this by providing means to gather knowledge about the vast universe surrounding us. It’s evident that space technology has developed rapidly in the past decades and its future holds even greater promise. With that being said, here are the biggest upcoming space missions and developments within the next decade:
Artemis 1: Sending Men Back to the Moon
Launched by NASA, the Artemis 1 plans to send the first woman and another man to the moon and back by 2024 in the Orion spacecraft. Essentially, the mission serves as the foundation to further space exploration (particularly in the case of Mars). Astronauts are planning to test the availability of resources including water and minerals that can be useful for future missions.
Prospector 1: Commercializing Space
Although the future for this development remains unclear, Deep Space Industries are looking to send a spacecraft to space to analyze asteroids. Planned sometime within the 2020s, the ultimate goal is to mine asteroids for precious materials. This would create the world’s first commercial body outside of Earth. Following Prospector 1, a specialized spacecraft to mine the asteroid and bring materials back to earth is in development. While this is promising, it is also worrying and brings forth the question; to what length will humans go in their quest to industrialize?
James Webb Space Telescope: Tracing Our History
A new and innovative telescope developed by NASA aims to trace the existence of planets and galaxies since the Big Bang. This specific technology studies their evolution, stages of being, chemical composition and physical properties. The result of this is vast knowledge that can help us determine whether there is a possibility of life on celestial bodies other than Earth.
Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA): Surfing the Waves of Spacetime
Operated by the European Space Agency, the LISA follows a previous mission test where the core technologies needed to asses gravitational waves were tested on two test mass cubes of solid platinum-gold alloys. The success of testing gave this technology the potential to apply it in space where mergers of black holes and company binary systems produce gravitational waves. To get an understanding of how important this is, Albert Einstein once described this phenomenon as the ripples in spacetime.
One Giant Leap for Mankind
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped foot on the moon for the first time on July 21, 1969. Upon arrival, Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. At that time, he may not have registered the profound meaning behind the words. Indeed, space exploration soared to great heights following the moon landing and we are getting nearer to finding reasons behind human existence and the evolution of extraterrestrial material. Here, the stars may not be so beyond our reach anymore. In this case, looking beyond may even be the key to understanding what’s within.