• Johannes Van Heerden

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away: The Future of Space Travel

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

Albert Einstein once said, “Time and space are not conditions of existence, time and space is a model for thinking.” Ever since humanity learned to walk, we have looked up to the sky, dreaming about what lies beyond the blue planet. Now that dream is becoming reality with new breakthroughs in space travel.

On the 30th of May 2020, SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, was choked up with emotion after his company successfully launched astronauts into space for the first time in almost 10 years. "I'm really quite overcome with emotion on this day, so it's kind of hard to talk, frankly," said Musk in a post-launch press conference at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida Saturday evening. "It's been 18 years working towards this goal, so it's hard to believe that it's happened."

Musk's comments came a few hours after SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the centre’s historic Launch Complex 39A, carrying a Crew Dragon spacecraft with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board. By successfully launching its new Crew Dragon spacecraft, with astronauts on board for the first time, SpaceX became the first private company to launch astronauts for NASA. The test flight, called Demo-2, is also the first crewed launch to orbit from the United States since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011. SpaceX and Boeing were both selected for NASA's commercial crew programme to wean the agency off its dependence on Russia's Soyuz to fly astronauts after the shuttle programme was retired.

"I think this is something that's particularly important in the United States but appeals to everyone throughout the world who has within them the spirit of exploration," Musk said. "This is something that I think humanity should be excited about… proud of occurring on this day."

With achievements like these many people are starting to believe that a trip to Mars might be possible in the very near future. Elon Musk confirmed via Twitter that he is still aiming to launch the first ships to Mars by 2022. These ships will hold cargo designed to support a future manned mission. That mission will come in 2024, the next time when the Earth and Mars are close again. Although these mission dates may be ambitious, Elon has never failed to deliver. So, even if the missions get delayed, a Mars colony is highly likely in the next 10 years. In addition, there is already a sign-up sheet for those who are brave enough. As Elon said, “I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact!”

Humans exploring space has always been a dream, a scene from a movie or just a work of science fiction, but with companies like SpaceX and Boeing, all those Star Wars fans might actually get to explore a galaxy far, far away!

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