Rideshare rockets servicing near-earth resorts. Orbiting farms producing food for a growing gravity-optional population. Moon and Mars colonies. Now that so many space-based “what ifs” are poised to become “what is” there’s no better time to imagine what it all be like. And what else will come along for the ride.
Making Space for Humanity
With the first “hotel in space” slated to launch by 2021, it seems certain that travel beyond the earth’s atmosphere will become increasingly accessible. People being people that means you can also expect to see new forms of fun floating around the great beyond. Games specifically designed for no- or low-gravity? Space playgrounds for the whole family? Zero-G sports teams and leagues? Why not? After all, as they might say by 2050, “all work and no play, makes Jill a dull astronaut.”
Gravity Defying Fuels
Of course, while many of the innovations that will make this great leap possible have yet to be invented, some of the more essential keys have been with us all along. Take kerosene, for example, a rocket fuel staple from John Glenn’s pioneering flight in 1962 to the reusable boosters Space X uses today. Petrochemicals play an essential role in everything from on-board computers to space suits to, well, that far, far, away galaxy and last Jedi’s light saber.
Benefits That Return to Earth
Repurposed space technology has already made a huge difference in fields ranging from energy efficient lighting, to water purification, to, now, plastics recycling and re-use, courtesy of NASA’s “refabricator” system on board the International Space Station. What’s next? Picture commercial innovation labs built to take advantage of unique science conditions to speed the development of new medicines, technologies, and agricultural advances.
More to Explore
You see, while it might sound a bit cliché, the sky really is no longer a limit. Especially when you consider how soon human imagination, together with the right materials, will take us where no one, truly, has gone before. Imagine that.
Five Fun Space Facts
Modern space suits are composed of 14 different layers of synthetic materials, most of which use petrochemicals as the primary building blocks, to protect spacewalking astronauts from minus 250 degree temperatures.
NASA can now grow produce in space thanks to a polymer coated fertilizer. With astronauts in space for long periods of time, often 12 months or more, growing produce in space is a healthier alternative to powdered and packaged foods, and it tastes better too.
The world record for “longest frisbee hang time” was set aboard the International Space Station by Christer Fuglesang, Swedish frisbee champ and that nation’s first astronaut.
In the 1950s, science fiction writer Robert Heinlein predicted that bold visionaries in private industry would lead mankind’s great leap into space.
The polymer parachute packed aboard NASA’s InSight lander took the vehicle from 80-miles high and 12,300 miles fast, to a gentle landing in just under seven minutes.