In a stunning development, key experts are now encouraging the development of interstellar spaceflight.
The time is now to create the foundation for the future of space exploration. This is a key area that will require incredible amounts of investment capital, many decades of research and development by leading experts, and cooperation among various space programs.
To discuss these issues, an interstellar space conference will be held August 15-18 in Dalllas to bring together scientists and engineers to discuss the possibilities and developments in this field.
The conference aims to plan out the next several decades of progress in interstellar space exploration from the next 20 years to 500+ years into the future.
While such projects were deemed as fanciful and disregarded in favor of more reasonable goals such as the exploration of Mars, I think this is an area that needs to be explored eventually.
In the near future of the next 1-2 decades, it is more realistic to research the suitability of nearby planets such as Mars for human colonization.
After a nearly 10 year career, NASA’s formidable Opportunity Mars rover has discovered an area that shows conditions on Mars were once capable of supporting the reactions that lead to the formation of life.
The discovered habitable zone once contained neutral pH-balanced “benign drinkable water” as well as mineral compounds that would have been necessary for the type of prebiotic chemistry capable of creating microbial life.
This habitable zone is located on a rock named “Esperance”. The difference between the findings on Esperance and earlier findings of the existence of water is the favorable surrounding conditions. These findings include a neutral pH and levels of clay not seen before on Mars.
These findings are just one more piece in the puzzle of how Mars transformed from a warm and wet planet to today’s cold and dry conditions.
Though now dry, these tracks show what used to be flood plains on the surface of a young Mars.
What was it like on Mars when the planet was covered in water and was geologically active and capable of sustaining an atmosphere?
Is it possible to “restart” the planet? Tap into the water that’s trapped underground and restore the atmosphere?
The promise of space colonization is closer than ever as Mars One has received an astounding 78000 applications for their Mars settlement project.
The potential pioneers for the project come from over 120 different countries. All applicants are fully aware that this is a one way trip only. There is no opportunity to return to Earth.
Much like early day pioneers, these brave souls will be tasked with founding a new settlement on Mars backed by private investors and sponsors.
People from all walks of life were encouraged to apply and this program did not limit applications to just those experienced with flight such as pilots or researchers. In fact, anybody over the age of 18 was able to send in an application. This ensures that the founding team of explorers will possess a diverse arsenal of skills necessary to ensure a successful colony.
The mission is to send human pioneers to the red planet by 2023. Earlier trips by cargo ships have been scheduled to make sure the explorers will have all the supplies needed to build a new settlement.
We stand at the beginning of a new era. Post industrial revolution and post information revolution, our planet is but a cradle of mankind. With a growing population and finite resources, we need expand beyond Earth and human colonization of space is the next step.
In the 21st century, I am sure that the move towards sending human civilization into space will be one of the most significant movements of the century. The pioneers of this field are found in private industry, rather than government entities. The motivation for sending humans into space means colonization is inevitable and will begin before the end of this century has passed.
The field of space exploration has long been dominated by government and academia and yet progress has stalled for decades while other technologies advance. This is where private enterprise and the free market come to the rescue. Without the distraction of bureaucracy and politics, space programs flourish with fresh capital and innovative ideas.
This injection of resources will break down the largest barrier so far in space exploration: the cost of sending people into space. A competitive market will ensure lower costs as much as the expansion of computers from university research labs into the private consumer market has driven down the cost of owning a computer.
Despite the immaturity of the private spaceflight market, there is already enough competition to lower the cost of flight significantly. Early pioneers such as Masten Space Systems and Armadillo Aerospace created competition in developing new reusable launch vehicles. Future examples of such competitive forces will only further reduce the costs of flying into space.
Just as past settlers expanded and colonized new lands, the future of humanity lies in colonization of what lies beyond the horizon. The sun is just now beginning to rise on a new era.
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