By the time this blog hits the airwaves, the final shuttle mission will have concluded and this era of space exploration will be closed. 135 missions over 3o years. For me, this is both a sad and a happy time. Being someone who grew up addicted to Star Trek, Star Wars, and other space related stories (yes, I was known to watch Lost In Space as a kid), I became a real believer that the exploration of space would help us continue to thrive. And now, another chapter of that quest has come to a close. To honor that end, I went in search of information about the future of space travel.
First, I’d like to recap a brief history of the space program:
- 1957/1958 – The Soviet Union launches Sputnik I and NASA is launched
- 1961-1972 – Projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo put men further into space
- 1975 – Apollo-Soyuz – first international flight in conjunction with the Soviet Union
- 1981 – 2011 – The Space Shuttle Program
- 1998 – The beginning of the International Space Station, with multiple nations involved.
There have been some amazing accomplishments during this process, most notably on July 20, 1969. History was made when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface. The video below is really more about Walter Cronkite than the landing, but I remember his emotion to this day.
There have also been some horrific failures. Sometimes, it didn’t seem worth it. Yet we, as a planet, persevere in the quest for knowledge of “what’s out there”.
So what’s in store for the future of space exploration? Well, NASA is looking to send mankind further into space. The ISS (International Space Station) is still actively in research mode and will be kept stocked by Russia, Europe, and Japan for now. Commercial companies appear poised to take that job over in the next few years. And NASA continues to launch unmanned spacecraft to study the dynamics of space.
Also, don’t forget the positive effect on our daily lives. MRI’s and laser eye surgery are a direct result of NASA research. Smoke detectors, ergonomic desks, memory foam, invisible braces, bar coding, purified water – yep, all got their start in space research.
My thanks go out to everyone involved with the space programs. I would love to see regular space flight as a part of our daily lives, but doubt it will happen in my lifetime.
Still, a not so closet trekkie can dream, can’t she? 🙂
posted by Laurie Ryan