It’s a pretty exciting moment in time for those interested in space, space travel, technological advancement and political games.
With Russia threatening to close off their rocket supplies and with the contract between American and Russian space agencies running out in 2017, the worrisome realisation that USA could be incapable of getting into space at all is awakening.
Now, I don’t need to go into details about this since it’s all over the news (Assuming you follow technology/space/science sections), but basically monetary contracts have been granted by NASA to both Boeing and SpaceX to have ships designed and tested by 2017 for manned missions into space. This is primarily to distance America from Russia and to reduce their dependency on the provocative rival.
To me, this is great news. Private corporations have a knack for being hated and distrusted for their endless covetous desires, to gain profit under any circumstances. Be that as it may, it doesn’t necessitate evil wrongdoings all the time. The very same instinct of greed of which the private sector thrives can also be a major boon for society, as I mentioned before.
The thirst for ambition, the need for success, the desire to be bigger and better, these qualities are born in some people, and of those, a percentage will manage to pursue it, and their success will encourage them further, and their ambitions reach higher and at this point, misanthropy tends to fade away. Billionaires become charitable. True, they become charitable to the cause they see fit which may or may not be desirable for the rest of the world, but in some cases, you get heros and legends.
Elon Musk, the (co)founder of Paypal and Tesla, has dedicated a huge chunk of his ‘estimated $9.5 billion personal fortune’ into this project, investing in SpaceX (of which he is now the CEO)and showing his all round absurd ambitions with a rather matter-of-fact expression always lining his face. To us, his words seem ridiculous and best left to the dream world. To him, It’s just going to happen. He wants to retire on Mars.
Boeing will be working with Blue Origin, a company owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, another big wig with ambitions beyond this world.
The government can only go so far. The government is not primarily in the game for monetary gain. Perhaps the individuals, but as a collective entity the government ought to be there for the people and to support the nation.
This means their risk factor is much lower than that of private companies who want more, more, MORE.
Space has a fantastic potential for return. For example? How about Asteroid Mining?
For something that sounds like a plot device for a new Doom game or sci-fi anime series, it’s alarmingly close to reality. Alongside the news of private space launching comes the even more exciting event of landing on a comet.
The main satellite, Rosetta, is already following an irregular orbit around the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and will soon be releasing a mini-me designed to land on a strip now officially chosen as the safest best.
But the safest bet is not exactly safe. The scientists determined that attempting the same feat on a mostly spherical object would garner a 70-75% chance of success. 67P looks more like a very rocky duck.
The fact that anyone is attempting such an absurdly ambitious task is worth a global applause in itself. The fact that it might actually succeed is mind boggling. These guys have been working on this for 20 years. The satellite has been messing around up there for a decade, and the team have to rely on automated instructions to just… work, since the comet is way too far away to actually send live-streaming instructions. Remember, it takes light 8.5 minutes to get from the sun to earth. 67P is around 1.3 times that distance (190,000,000km). Signals from the spacecraft take over 20 minutes to get back to Earth. Useless for any subtle change should a little rock get in the way with intentions to destroy everything.
Success or failure, it is nevertheless a huge step towards landing on space entities with digging tools, mining precious metals our Earth is rapidly running low on.
Those precious metals are very important, largely used for economic and technological progress, and ‘…all the gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium, ruthenium and tungsten’ come from ancient comets splattering down on earth. So we know where there is an abundance.
As demand increases, so do the big wig ambitions. They know where the money is. They will find a way to get it.
I’m willing to bet that it’s the private businesses of the world that are going to achieve true prosperity in space, long before the government, who are historically known for only pursuing great goals as a reaction to threats (cold war, mission to the moon, anyone?).
It’s an exciting time. Things are changing. Entrepreneurs are going to change the world.
For the better and worse.