Twenty years ago, we were still using dial-up internet. Ten years from now, power could be supplied to homes wirelessly. In 20 years, there’s no telling what kind of world we’ll inhabit. However, one thing is for sure: space travel will look very different than it does today.
In recent years, the private sector has been leading the way in a new age of commercial space exploration and development. We hope this trend continues unabated. And that NASA will continue to play an important role in pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding. Through its unparalleled expertise in deep space missions like Voyager 1 and 2. But progress seems to be increasingly being driven by private interests more than ever before.
As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. The same can be said for space travel. There are too many examples of things that were not invented until there was a need for it to count them all here.
However, here is a list of just some of what we have discovered so far:
- Inflatable space habitats like the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) and the Transhab Concept (TransHab – see Space Station Freedom)
- New propulsion technologies such as nuclear thermal rockets, Hall Effect thrusters, and ion thrusters
- Flexible solar arrays such as deployable solar arrays and roll-out solar arrays.
- Advanced materials such as carbon fiber, Kevlar, Teflon, reinforced plastics.
- Telecommunications improvements such as the ability to send voice and video transmissions through space.
- Advancements such as microprocessor development and nanotechnology innovations.
Obviously, the list above isn’t exhaustive. But it gives you an idea of how much progress has been made in a relatively short period of time. As well as what frontiers are yet to be explored.
What about Space Tourism?
Imagine a future where you can book a vacation that includes an African safari in the morning, New York City sightseeing in the afternoon, and watching a man-made meteor shower from your hotel balcony at night.
Now imagine booking that same trip for 35 years from now. You’ll be able to board a spacecraft, blast off into space aboard an incredibly luxurious spaceship filled with fine wines and top-notch entertainment, and then glide down back to Earth — without ever leaving home.
Shortly, SpaceX and XCOR Aerospace will offer space travel on a commercial basis for the first time. The companies are among the few companies in the world working to make space travel a reality.
“We’ve been doing it for the last 20 years. We’re ready to go,” Greason told Business Insider in a wide-ranging interview. “It’s not a question of if it will happen, but when.”
Another contender for space tourism is SpaceX. And now it seems like space tourism is on the minds of billionaires as well. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are already on board with the idea of space tourism.
It might sound like science fiction, but Elon Musk says that his company isn’t just dreaming about this future. He says it’s already on track to deliver it.
It is only a matter of time until we explore space as a leisure activity.