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A futurist’s guide to the galaxy

(Sunrise space outer via Pixabay)

It seems almost a lifetime ago that the US and Russia were locked in a desperate struggle to reach space. Fifty years hence, and it seems we are still obsessed with colonising the stars. You need only look at the success of sci-fi as a genre to see that the potential and uncertainty of space is something that grips people's imagination. Previously, space travel has been the dream of millions but the reality of only a few. However, with new advances into the science of space travel, the possibility of visiting the moon could be a real opportunity in the not-too-distant future. It’s safe to say, we have come along way from sending dogs to orbit the planet in caskets and hoping they survive. So, what can we expect from organisations such as NASA in the coming years? What does the future hold for space travel?

This year, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is set to become the first mission into the atmosphere of the sun. Although the probe will still be four million miles from the surface, the heat and energy the probe will be forced to sustain, not only from its mission, but from it’s reentry, is staggering and speaks to the engineering possibilities of this modern era. The probe aims to collect scientific data on the process in which energy is created and directed by the sun. We are already able to convert sun rays to electricity from 1.5 light years away (approx. 150,000,000km), so imagine the implications this could have for renewable energy.

There has also been talk for a couple of years about the first commercial flights to the moon. A multitude of companies are promising that in the next year, they’ll have sent private shuttles to take non-astronauts to it the moon’s surface. For example, the Moon Express, a flight that is set to depart late this year, will be the world’s first commercial expedition into space. As technology continues to advance, it does make you wonder about the future of human habitation, and whether it is truly confined to our own world. Imagine, in the future, a small province in some once-desolate crater of the moon, it’s young residents staring up to the earth as though it were an alien planet. While this might seem a far fetched thought, by 2100 it is expected that over a million people will have left earth behind and be living elsewhere. So, perhaps some kind of lunar metropolis would be more realistic.

As we continue to make leaps forward in space travel, it seems that the gap between science and fiction is becoming less and less clear. And even though I can’t think of many sci-fi films in which space exploration was a good idea, the possibilities that lend themselves to a convenient and consistent space travel tire and cram the imagination.

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