The Dawn of a New Space Era
?Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot stay in the cradle forever.?
One of the fathers of rocketry, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, put in words something that I have known deep down for as long as I remember. These words were spoken a century ago. At that time space was an unknown, a fantasy. Many painted the picture of space as a scary abyss as the oceans were depicted full of beasts and sea monsters centuries earlier. Could humans survive the unknown?
Today Tsiolkovsky?s message might not seem so far away. The incredible thing is that it is going to happen much sooner than you think, and it is going to change all levels of society.
Space cities, factories, asteroid mining and much, much more
In the next 10 to 20 years we?re going to see the birth of the first space city on Earth?s orbit. It will be commercially run after the International Space Station is retired, which according to today?s knowledge will happen in 2024. It will expand with manufacturing: fibre optics and 3D-printing of human organs for terrestrial use, construction for orbital and deep space exploration spacecrafts. The space city will facilitate a space hotel for tourism, research for terrestrial benefits and for the settlement of the solar system. Hundreds of people will be working and living on Earth?s orbit.
We will see the beginning of an international Moon settlement joining commercial companies, Europe and countries such as the United States, China, Russia, Japan and India for a shared venture. The Moon will be the center for humanity?s transition to space. It will provide fuel, materials, manufacturing and a testing ground for humanity becoming a multiplanetary species. It will facilitate our journey to Mars and mining asteroids. The Moon will eventually become a base for a new kind of tourism. As the Moon?s gravity is one sixth of the gravity of the Earth, you can fly with wings envisioned by Leonardo Da Vinci.
In the 2030s we will see the first humans stepping on another planet, Mars. The planet will be changed into an Earth-like environment, habitable without any special suits. A planet with blue skies and green ground. For this terraforming, we might need to wait some centuries, but we will witness a new permanent settlement on Mars in the 30s with a crew of half-a-dozen or more.
During this time, we will also see catching of asteroids for mining in the near space of Earth and beyond. We will use the materials mined for building new spacecrafts, settlements and even bringing some of the most precious minerals down to Earth.
Space will empower us all
Space will be immersed in every level of our lives in the next 10 years or so.
We will take for granted most of the benefits such as the real-time Earth observation technologies on the orbit, which make cities, transportation, food production, living, commercial services and industrial activities more efficient, safer and environmentally friendlier. At the same time, it will create new unforeseen ways to improve our lives and help to foster the environment. Our human settlements and expeditions deeper into the solar system will strife material, life, recycling, medical, and other technologies forward. The Moonshot of the 60s is the best example of how human space exploration drove our technological development and how new industries such as software languages were born.
In the 2030s we will see space in our everyday lives. We can easily send things to space and get them back. Real-time virtual reality experiences and holidays on the surface of the Moon will be accessible for all. The price of taking a sub-orbital flight will be like taking a transatlantic flight today. It will be reachable for most of us. The same will happen for orbital flights in a decade or two afterwards. We will see the same activities as on Earth taking place in space: sports, art, entertainment and culture. More and more people will spend holidays on the Earth?s orbit.
Our worldviews will be changed forever as we find life outside Earth. Whether it happens on the oceans of Enceladus, Saturn?s moon, or Mars, we do not know, but it will rewrite our place in the universe.
The new gold rush
The space is opening with exponential speed. There are new technologies, ventures, collaborations, markets and funding being applied. The force of the new tech minds and billionaires are driving the space industry. We are the generation that was deprived of the inspiring future promised by the Moon-shot, and it is up to us to create it. Most of the tech billionaires are putting their personal wealth in the game to close the innovation gap in space technology that has formed in the past forty years. At the same time governments are opening space for competition and more commercial collaboration. The entry barrier to space is crashing down. You could already create space companies by creating services through the Earth?s free observation data. This can be as simple as creating new mobile apps from the data.
The rise of re-usable rockets, miniature technologies and streamlining governmental procedures have lowered the price of physically accessing space hundred plus fold in the past ten years or so, and it is continuing to get lower and lower. New opportunities are just waiting for entrepreneurs and investors to realize there?s a new gold rush to be found up there.
Bringing space closer to us
There is one factor that must be taken into account if this inspiring future of prosperity happens in the next ten or thirty years. It is us, the people. Commercial companies are making space cheaper by the day, and new countries are entering the arena. Ultimately, how everyday people see the relevance of space, and how they can participate in it, defines the speed of humanity?s transition to space. It affects the funding of space agencies, and the demand for commercial companies.
This is what we are working for in Space Nation. We offer concrete ways for everyone to be part of this inspiring future. It is about bringing space closer to people. To demystify it, make it warm and an everyday experience.
The humanity?s journey to space is about all of us. It is about making ourselves better as individuals and as a society. It is about new prosperity and economic growth. It is about inspiration and creativity. It is about understanding and finding our place in the universe. It is about creating our future together as one nation, Space Nation.Written by