Space Exploration: Soon-to-be Reality?
Against all odds, we hope. Maybe that's our speciality as a species? One such hope, one such dream, is to conquer space. And, we are moving eerily close to that dream. Read on 🚀🚀
Billions of years ago, when the stars exploded, they formed everything we know.
The world, and its people.
Everything, after all, is stardust.
We form a very small part of this vast universe, yet we dream to leave large footprints behind.
And now, our dreams have gained wings, and we are ready to take the first flight to Space.
Yes, you read that right.
The economics of space travel have started making sense, and we are swiftly moving towards a voyage beyond the stars.
(Check out this piece where we talk about the past, present and future of Space exploration, and what really makes it a future worth rooting for).
Jeff Bezos is among the forerunners on this voyage to Space, and he’s making it possible for one lucky human being to take a flight to Space. To experience Space. To feel Space.
Did we say “lucky”?
Sorry, we meant rich.
Blue Origin, Bezos’ rocket company, is ready with its spacecraft, New Shepard (named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space), to fly its first astronaut crew to Space on 20th July, 2021 (also the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing). And, the winner of an online auction gets a chance to become one of the voyagers to Space! (tweet this).
The participation for the auction is open till 10th June (give it a shot, maybe? :P), after which a live auction will be held on 12th June to decide the ultimate winner. More than 5,200 people from 136 countries have taken part in this auction.
We know you must be wondering what the current highest bid is. Take a guess?
$2,800,000! Yes, that’s how much someone is willing to pay for a 10-min ride to space. That’s $4,666 per second.
You bet this could be the best 10 mins of your life. The surreal experience of being alive, being a tiny part of this vast, vast universe. The surreal experience of being weightless, floating among the very stars that made us. The surreal experience of stardust within our bodies reuniting with stardust in Space. Worth it, maybe?
But, hey. Bezos does not plan to take the money home.
The winning bid amount will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and help build life in Space and beyond.
Another Voyager to Space
The crypto-fanatic, Musk, has dreams beyond crypto. His bigger mission in life is to colonise Mars. To make life multiplanetary. And ultimately, to die on Mars.
And, the first step of this mission was taken last year, on May 30, when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket to take astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) (400 kilometers above Earth) in just a matter of 19 hours!
On November 16, 2020, 4 astronauts flew aboard SpaceX’s Dragon on its first six-month operational mission to the space station under the “Crew-1 Mission”. The Dragon spacecraft can carry 7 passengers to and from Earth orbit, and is the first private aircraft that can take humans to the space station. This space expedition is another baby step towards leaving large footprints in outer Space.
Musk also plans to use Crew Dragon to launch paying customers into space. You could soon take exotic vacations to space stations in fancy spacecrafts - at a cost of $20 million per seat.
Well, not just outside the boundaries of our blue planet. What if you could cover those long flights in just 30 mins or less? What if you could fly off to your long distance partner every time you miss them? Make an impromptu plan, and voilà! 30 mins later you're living your best life, with your best person next to you :)
Yes, SpaceX is making this possible too. Look at the drastic difference in journey times:
Yet Another Silent Voyager
While Bezos and Musk are making all the news, Richard Branson is silently steering the spaceship of Virgin Galactic to make Space accessible to all.
“We are at the dawn of a golden age of space exploration which will transform our relationship with the Earth and with the cosmos.” - Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Galactic.
VSS unity, the first spaceship to offer commercial service, will allow you and me to go into Space, and experience the magical outer world.
“Taking more and more passengers out into space will enable them, and us, to look both outwards and back but with a fresh perspective in both directions” - Professor Stephen Hawking.
But, can we reaally go to Space just like that? Of course not.
Each flight will cost you $200,000 to $250,000, and the company hopes to take its first private astronaut on a suborbital flight by 2022. Around 600 (rich) people have already booked their flights, and thousands are on a waiting list.
And, Space is no London or New York. You will have to fill out a medical history questionnaire if you wish to take a suborbital flight. Want to go further into Space for a little longer?
Get ready for a more detailed form and a whole lot of blood tests, X-rays and other tests.
Making space exploration accessible and affordable for all humans is definitely the next challenge. But, if we have come this far, we can sure achieve our next dream too. One step at a time, one dream at a time (tweet this).
While flying in general, within the planet, was a costly affair once - in came low cost carriers and made flights affordable for us. Maybe this will happen with SpaceFlights too?
The question is no longer “if” we’ll be an en-masse space-faring species, but when.
Some humans are bold enough to try and make this dream into a reality.
We cheer you on, Great Explorers.
To the moon, and beyond.
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