We earthlings are extremely inquisitive creatures, but money often gets in our way.
In 1961 the first human was shot into orbit around Earth, by 1969 humans had travelled to the moon and landed, culminating in the first human being to ever step foot on another planetary body.
That was 46 years ago…. What have we accomplished since?
Spacecraft and robotic explorers, while very cool, are nowhere near as cool human exploration. We have sent probes to the outer planets and even had some of them leave our solar system and still continue to send information. Voyager 1 is officially in interstellar space. We have also had a robotic rover driving around Mars for over a decade and covering a total of 42km (26 miles). There is also the much larger rover Curiosity which has recently discovered methane on the surface of mars. But while all of this is really cool, is that seriously all we have accomplished since the first man landed on the moon?
Yes, a few rovers and spacecraft, that is it! Don’t get me wrong I’m over the moon that it has all happened, but I’m also disappointed that we haven’t accomplished more. If it wasn’t for the old dollar being in such high demand I am sure that humankind could have bases on the moon by now, at the very least.
So what is the answer? What can we do to help humans get into space and onto other planets and moons?
The private sector.
There are plenty of non-government organisations trying to get into space.
Lightsail is one such project, lead by the CEO of The Planetary Society, Bill Nye (the Science Guy).
Lightsail is a project designed around the idea of using a large sail to ride light. Yes, light actually has a pushing force!
The main motivation behind this project is to create a cheap and easily accessible way for citizen space projects. With all that The Planetary Society are trying to achieve and with other private organisations venturing into space, space exploration will no longer be entirely on the shoulders of government run organisations. While the government run organisations are still doing great and exciting work exploring space with robots and also the manned ISS, it is time that others got more involved.
You can learn a lot more about this on the Lightsail Kickstarter page.
Lightsail is just one example of organisations trying to reach space. Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic are busily building another spaceship, Mars-One is attempting to colonise Mars, Elon Musk and Space X are revolutionising the space industry by attempting to land rockets vertically on Automated Barge and building the re-usable and vertical landing manned Dragon V2 spacecraft.
The future of space is no longer solely in the hands of the governments of Earth.