Introduction to Space Exploration, Robotic Space-flight, Human Space-flight,
Space-flight, Colonization of Space, Purpose and
Critics of Space Exploration, History, Major Contributions, Future of Space Flight, Private Ventures in Space Exploration, Space Tourism, X-price
Space Exploration is the exploration, discovery, study and understanding of the outer space through the use of space technology and astronomy.
Introduction to Space Exploration
Space has always been the final frontier for mankind and space exploration is the key to discovering the immense universe that surrounds our planet. Space Exploration can be done using either robotic space-flight or human space-flight.
Robotic Space-flight and Exploration
Robotic space-flight and exploration is a term that is used for space exploration missions involving the use of probes, satellites, rovers, orbiters, landers are used for space exploration purposes. Robotic space-crafts are designed for specific mission and objectives and then they are launch on board rocket and space launch vehicles where they intercept their target and gather information and data on the object under observation.
Robotic space-flight is a safe and cost-affective way of space exploration and cost significantly less than human space-flight missions which are huge budget missions. Robotic spacecrafts can operate at sub-zero temperatures and can be used to study distant planets and moons. Many robotic spacecrafts are sent to Mars, moon, asteroids and other planets to study and explore them. Robotic space-flight can be seen as a best way to explore the immense space of the universe.
Human Space-flight and Exploration
Human space-flight and human space exploration is a term that is used for manned mission to different celestial objects, outer space or for manned mission for general space exploration and space research purposes. Human space-flight missions include like the manned mission to the Moon onboard the Apollo 11 rocket, Space shuttle missions, Mir space station and International Space Station (ISS) missions.
Human Space-flight costs significantly more than robotic space-flight and pose a risk to the human crew on board these spacecrafts. There are also many certain advantages of human space-flight but it runs against the significant costs and safety risks involved in manned scientific missions. It is hoped that manned missions for space exploration will increase in the 21st century as costs of systems reduces, new technologies develop. Future manned missions to Moon and Mars are planned with 10-15 years time span.
Space Flight is defined as the use of the space-craft to launch a payload into outer space. The payload can be commercial or military satellite, but can also be space-crafts or probes, landers, etc.
Colonization of Space
Space Colonization is the colonization in outer space on other planets and moons. It is human settlement outside of the Earth on other planets or satellites. Space colonization will make permanent settlements and habitats on other planet and moons and will be fully autonomous and self supporting colonies.
Purpose of Space Exploration
The purpose of space exploration is an understanding of the universe we live in. To gather knowledge and understanding of different celestial bodies around us. Some scientists consider space exploration vital for the survival of the human kind, to look for earth like planets and for the colonization of the outer space.
Critics of Space Exploration
Critics of space exploration cite the potential risks and costs involve in space missions and also point towards that no significant breakthrough in scientific terms has been achieved through these space missions.
Although critics may find faults in space exploration, but the fact remains that for the first time in the human history man has been able to step outside the earth, discover the space and has set foot on the surface of the Moon.
History of Space Exploration
Serious work on space exploration started after the 1950’s when rocketry and rocket science understanding and engineering made it possible to reach outer space. This was the beginning of a new era in human history and the discovery of space exploration started.
Cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union (Russia) propelled the space exploration efforts and for the eventual supremacy in space. The Soviet sputnik launched the first artificial satellite in Orbit the Sputnik 1 satellite on October 4, 1957 and became the first nation to reach outer-space. The launch of the Sputnik sparked the beginning of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Soviet Union launched the first living thing in outer space by sending an animal Laika (a dog) on board its rocket to outer space. United States eventually fuelled its space program and were able to send an artificial satellite Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958.
First Human Space-flights
The first human (man) to reach outer space on the first human space-flight on board the Soviet Union rocket Vostok-1 was the Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. The launch of a human into space showed the Russian supremacy in space technology ahead of the United States at that time. The launch of a human into space sparked the beginning of a new era in human space-flight and in human space exploration. The first woman to reach outer space was Valentina Treshkova of the Soviet Union who reached space on board the Soviet Union rocket Vostok-6 in January 16, 1963. The first US person to reach outer space was Alan Shepard on board Mercury rocket. The first Chinese to reach outer space was Yang Lewei on board the Chinese rocket Shenzhou 5 rocket in 2003. Since, the first manned flight manned mission to the Moon has also taken place. The first person to land on the surface of the Moon was Neil Armstrong of the United States. Since, then many astronauts and cosmonauts have reach outer space. Chinese titonaut has also reached outer space. These manned missions have paved the way towards a manned mission to Mars in the future. Both the United States space agency NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Exploration) and the Soviet Union now Russian space agency known as RKA (Russian Federal Space Agency) efforts were instrumental to reach outer space and start the space exploration era.
Major Contributors in the field of Space Exploration
Early pioneers in the field of rocketry and rocket science made possible future space flight and space exploration missions. The cold war and subsequent Space War between the Soviet Union and the United States were also very useful in developing the knowledge and understanding of aeronautics and space-flight systems which made possible space-flight.
Early pioneers who laid the ground work in the field of rocketry in the 20th century include the likes of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky who developed the rocket equation. Pioneering work by Robert H. Goddard was instrumental also. Reinhold Tilling and Herman Oberth also made significant contributions in the field of rocketry and rocket science.
Germany was at the fore-front in the field of rocketry. Germans developed the V-2 rocket. After the defeat of Germany during the Second World War German scientists and engineers were captured by the Allied forces and the Soviet Forces. German rocket facilities and factories were also captured by the two nations. It was these German engineers which move to both Soviet Union and United States whose work enabled space-flight and space-rockets to become possible.
Wernher Von Braun
German scientist Wernher Von Braun can be regarded as the father of the United States space program. After the defeat of Germany during World War II he along with several of his scientists moved to the United States. Wernher Von Braun is credited with developing the first artificial satellite of the United States the Voyager 1 and he also developed the Saturn V rocket which took man to the moon.
Russian scientists Sergey Korolyov can be called as the father of the Russian space program. He is credited with the development of R7 and Soyuz spacecraft which is operational to this day. Sergey Korolyov like Wernher Von Braun was a genius in that he designed the first satellite and was the master-mind behind the first human (man and woman) in space and was instrumental in the first space walk. Had Korolyov not died in 1966 some say, Russians would be able to reach the Moon before the United States in 1969.
Future of Space Exploration
The future of space exploration is very bright as a large number of government and private ventures are in the pipeline for space exploration.
Government Ventures in Space Exploration in the 21st Century
The United States has expressed his interests to further enhance the space exploration. Manned mission to the surface of Moon and manned mission to Mars are also planned. Similarly, other countries including Russia and China have expressed interest to land a man on the Moon with Russian and Chinese scientists collaborating on a shared goal. Similarly, other countries including Pakistan and India have space goals. Pakistan is working towards developing the technologies and infrastructure for space exploration.
Private Ventures in Space Exploration in the 21st Century
Many private companies have expressed interests in space exploration. In the 21st century many space ventures will be taken up by private companies for commercial benefits.
Space Tourism has already started with a person paying 27 million dollars can go the International Space station for a week and enjoy the view from outer space. In the 21st century space tourism, space resorts and space hotels are planned which will carry tourists to space for recreational purposes, site seeing and enjoyment. This kind of space tourism has vast potential as people are willing to pay huge sums of money which is an incentive for companies who wish to pursue this business.
XPrice (An Spacecraft and Space-flight Competition)
The Xprice was started a few years ago where the Xprice committee was giving millions of dollars to any company or private venture who can reach the outer space. Spaceship One and White Knight built by Burt Rutan became the first space commercial private venture to reach outer space.
Google Lunar X-Price
Google Lunar X-Prize initiated by the X-price foundation is offering a 30 million dollar price money award for the first privately funded lunar landing.
Many billionaires including Virgin Atlantic owner Richard Branson has expressed interests and desire in space exploration and space tourism.
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