Space, The Final Frontier

Well I’m a bit late with this but as the saying goes, better late than…..

So it’s the 5oth anniversary of the beginning of mans adventures into space.

During this period of time we have had missions to:

Mercury: 1 Mission: 1 successful, +1 en route, +1 planned

Venus: 40 Missions: 26 successful, +1 planned

Moon: 80 Missions: 45 successful, +4 planned

Mars: 38 Missions: 18 successful, +1 en route, +4 planned

Asteroids: 4 Missions: 4 successful, +1 planned

Jupiter: 8 Missions: 8 successful, +1 planned

Saturn: 4 Missions: 4 successful

Uranus: 1 Mission: 1 successful

Neptune: 1 Mission: 1 successful

Pluto: 0 Missions: 1 en route

Comets: 10 Missions: 9 successful, +1 en route

Now it may just be me, but I doubt it, but this seems like an amazing achievement for just 50 years of space travel. In fact in the grand scheme of things 50 years is nothing and look how far we have come. I can’t wait to see where we are in 2057, providing I’m here of course.

So I want to do a little bit of chit chat about space, our final frontier, from a few different angles.

Can we still make life better for the underprivileged people back on earth while continuing with space travel?

This question basically asks are we diverting money that could be used to feed the world etc. I would venture that the short answer is no. The long answer is still no. Why you may ask? Shouldn’t we be pumping the huge amounts of money that is consumed by the various space programs around the world in to looking after the poor and hungry and ill?

Well lets have a relitavely deeper look shall we, starting with the one country in the world that the major space program in the world. The USA. Ok, they spend $16 billion a year on NASA. Wow you may say. But hang on, thats 0.5 per cent of federal funds. The military on the other hand consumes $439.3 Billion. The maths there are pretty plain to see.

We are where we are today because of the human desire to explore. Every luxury and technological / medical / scientific advance humans as a race have made is due to our enduring and never ending desire to understand what we don’t, and it’s one of the bigger facts that distinguishes us from other species. To deny our thirst for knowledge is to dampen our humanity.

Why we must leave Earth

Why send astronauts to other worlds?

If we remain on Earth we will surely become extinct, and probably long before an expanding Sun roasts our planet. The fact is that we are vulnerable to the same types of catastrophic events that have wiped out other spieces on earth. Mammalian species, on average, last just a couple of million years. Our parent species, Homo erectus, lasted about 1.6 million years, while Neanderthals died out after only 300,000 years. We might have conquered the planet but it is just a tiny island in the universe, and species confined to a single island are often found on the endangered list.

Lifetime Expectations: we can estimate with 95 per cent confidence, how long humans and the human space flight programme are likely to last.

4-5 billion years: sun burns out

5100 – 7,800,00 years: humans race disappears

46 – 1794 years: end of the space program

New Scientist #2620

Will we still be here in 8 million years? Nuclear war, bioterrorism or even nanotechnology could wipe us out in a cosmic heartbeat.

What is clear however, to me and a lot of other people, is that if we have a stable colony on another planet in this solar system or in another, we will have doubled our surival chances in the long run.

I’ll finish with something from Carl Sagan. “Isn’t it possible to make a better life for everyone here on earth, and at the same time to reach for the planets and the stars?”

Video Content



Strange Satellites

  • Some military reconnaissance satellites are believed to weigh more than 14 tonnes
  • Canada’s MOST satellite is often called the worlds smallest space telescope. It could fit inside a suitcase and is refered to as the Humble Space telescope.

Space is the final frontier for humankind: it is now and always will be. It is the place that we will always know the least about because of its almost limitless extent. But it also offers the potential of almost unlimited opportunity. Brian Schmidt


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