‘The Next Steps in Space Exploration’ by author Joseph J. O’Donnell

us-space-spacex-dragon-v2-spacecraft-elon-musk-e1401420115811  To date the only manned exploration of other worlds had been the United States ventures on the lunar surface in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Since that time the only other great achievement was the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting earth. Following these projects our country, and others, have launched remarkable telescopes to study the cosmos, and ingenious robotic instruments to act as scouts on the surface of Mars.

Visually exploring the cosmos, and detailing and testing the surface of Mars, is important as these are the necessary first steps to targeting where we should go. They give us a better understanding of our galactic neighborhood as well as determine the safety and longevity of colonization on our neighboring planets. The study of our own solar system is also important as it will spur interest from the private sector in developing space vehicles and habitats for manned missions . The studies will also spur on mining for precious materials and their manufacturing on nearby worlds. The moons of our solar system, comets, and asteroids have also been preliminarily explored by satellites and probes, and show promise as well.

Most scientists believe that our civilization should become at least a two planet species in order to insure our survival should the fate of earth become in jeopardy from some calamity befalling our planet. The events of the comet hitting Jupiter in the 1980’s, as well as the dinosaur killing comet that hit earth, were examples of what could befall our own civilization.

bigelow-aerospace-ba330-mars-art   So what will be our next steps ? We must first secure the safety of our astronauts and explorers. This can be done by launching ’emergency’ space stations to act as lifeboats around the Moon and Mars. With long voyages planned to these worlds they would provide safe havens for our astronauts should something go wrong with the exploration vehicles that take them there. Companies like SpaceX and Bigelow have already designed such craft. We must not forget past dangers that befell our early astronauts and the frightening experiences that they had in order to survive. Private companies could rent these craft to the private sectors, and space agencies, for their use as orbiting space stations as well. Boeing Aircraft should also capitalize on the International Space Station by also marketing their own versions of these orbiters for this purpose as well. Once such craft are ‘planted’ along our intended routes of travel, and around the many moons and planets we wish to explore, the stage will be set to move ahead once again.

Elon Musk   We’ve already talked about possible colonies so the obvious next move would be to have the aforementioned companies produce habitats that can be used for this purpose. Before we do so we should embark on the proper craft to reach these objective. In a recent article we revealed NASA’s newly designed ‘starship’. SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have already built and tested designs to do just that, too. Both these private companies are racing ahead with their plans and have actually launched these vehicles in successful flights, and SpaceX has used their craft to service the International Space Station.

Now we have to set up our goals for the use of our first colonies. Our present robotic exploration has already begun sampling the distant worlds for minerals and material for possible mining purposes. We should accelerate these studies with a flood of exploration robotic vehicles for discovering the bounty that our target worlds may hold. In doing so industrial companies can weigh a more favorable insight to go there. At the same time we can launch the survival craft around these worlds to make ready for human exploration on the surfaces below.

Joe O'Donnell   Our publication has contacted the companies we have discussed in this article with hopes that they will participate in the next issue. We are also contacting many of the scientists and schools that have appeared in past issues and asking them to join in this special series. George Mason University, in Virginia, has already joined in this forum and we hope to lead a ‘grass roots’ efforts to prompt our government to move ahead with manned space exploration. We will be reaching out to other countries whose space agencies are making great strides in mankind’s efforts to reach the distant stars. Our goal is to have mankind shed our earth’s shackles and at last inhabit other worlds.


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