Saturday , March 6 2021

Sunday Space: Modern space race is set to take the next “small step” for humanity in the Canberra Times

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On February 6, 2018, a new Falcon Heavy rocket exploded from Cape Canaveral for the first time. There was a strange payload, the 2008 Tesla Roadster, owned by the same billionaire who owns the rocket company. The first flight of the Falcon Heavy was a huge success and is now among the most powerful rockets in the world. While sending a car into space may seem embarrassing, it inspires. The launch showed everyday objects, and everyday people could get space. It showed that something new and different was happening. SpaceX has very big goals. Not only does it open up space for everyone, it aims to make a person’s life multi-level and expects to do so soon. Recently, there has been a silent revolution that will change everyone’s future. Private space companies are competing to build the first fully reusable spacecraft. They can launch and land in the same place, carrying huge amounts of cargo or a lot of people. Most importantly, it can be done cheaply, quickly and safely. This represents a fundamental change in space travel. Huge progress was made in 2020, largely unnoticed, when our attention was understandably elsewhere. SpaceX is testing a new huge rocket called “Starship”. While not designed to travel to the stars, yet yet, it provides public transportation to space, the Moon, Mars and elsewhere. MORE SPACE: It lands back on its launch site, or “space gate,” and is ready to fly again. The starship has engines that can be powered by elements found on Mars, and they have more space for humans than for the entire International Space Station. By making Starship reusable, it reduces the cost of accessing space. Launching 500 starships would cost the same as launching one spacecraft. The current Starship prototype flew up to 12.5 km in December last year. It passed all the tests except the last one – it landed too fast. The explosion was spectacular, but the importance of flight is hard to overestimate. Another attempt is scheduled to be completed each day as seven new vessels are under construction. According to the plan, when in operation, there will be 1,000 of them. This ship will carry 100 people per voyage, and it will take people back to the Moon in a few years, take the first people to Mars after that and then out of the solar system. Going to the moon takes about three days, a nice long vacation, while Mars takes several months, the same as sailing on a ship around the world. SpaceX shows us how blue sky thinking and innovation can bring huge benefits. Being a positive vision, thinking big and breaking, accepting failure, staying optimistic, and trying again; we can change the world. Australia is well placed to play a major role in this, and in the new future it will offer if it wants to. As for the Tesla Roadster, it quietly landed past the orbit of Mars in October and continues to drift in space for millions of years. Unless it ends up in a museum, as evidence of its role in the first phase of a new era for humanity.


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