Future space travel will be light years ahead of anything we have right now (and I’m not talking about Buzz Lightyear). And future space missions will follow a certain progression that is not too difficult to predict.
In the near future NASA and JPL will wind down their operations as the space tourism industry is just starting to wind up. In fact, there have already been several multi-millionaire space tourists to fly in a Soviet Soyuz spaceship to the International Space Station (ISS) and back. And over the past decade this has just been the beginning.
Within the next 1 or 2 years, space tourists will be going into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for around $90,000 to $250,000 per ride. They will experience several minutes of weightlessness and get a grand view of the curvature of the Earth from orbit.
Spaceports are now being built in a dozen different nations to accommodate this emerging multi-billion dollar industry. In another 20 to 30 years, future space travel into LEO will cost about the same as a trip on a luxury cruise ship.
Future space travel by this time will also include trips to the Moon as the Lunar X-Prize will have chosen a winner by then and moderately expensive trips will have begun. Small scale colonization will be taking place. Several space hotels will be in orbit.
At this point, tourists won’t have made it to Mars, but what we now call astronauts and cosmonauts (privately contracted of course) will have ventured to the Red Planet.
These Mars trips will pave the way for future space travel for tourists. The future space missions that will enable tourists to go on these longer trips (and for businesses to excavate natural resources) will be made by spaceships that are on the emerging edge of technology now.
Cold fusion and hot plasma will supply the power for future spaceships on these ventures (before scientists and researchers discover how to use the superfluid from neutron stars for power, but I’m getting ahead of myself here). Work is now being done on both cold fusion and plasma energy technologies and several breakthroughs will occur within the next decade to propel space technology further along the path than we now imagine is possible.
In the next 10 years, science fiction will have become science fact. Problems with anti-matter won’t matter. And, yet I digress and egress at the same time. Let’s push forward.
As the Earth’s natural resources dwindle (especially our need for increasing amounts of energy), this will drive the need for future space travel. The need for security will also be a driving force as an alarming amount of unforeseen Near Earth Objects will have whizzed by that could have caused devastation if they had squarely struck the planet.
So, future space travel and missions will have several purposes 20 to 30 years from now including leisure, business, security and redistribution of the population. When there is a security threat, nations will band together and pool resources escalating the urgency and minimizing the time-frame for technological development.
Future spacecraft will become more powerful, more capable of detecting danger in space and more adept at maneuvering to avoid those dangers. Future space missions will also test weaponry in space in case it is needed for aggressors, foreign or domestic.
At this time in the future time-travel and teleportation will still be science fiction. But, what will be fact will be the increased use of combined technology in future space missions that won’t involve spaceships roaring out into the far reaches of the galaxy and beyond.
Just like satellites are now situated strategically orbiting the earth, so will telecommunications spacecraft (and most likely military spacecraft) be situated at key locations throughout the solar system.
This will allow the blending of technologies such as supercomputers with true artificial intelligence (sorry Watson), lasers, holograms, avatars and other future technology to explore in detail places where humans will not have to go. Or should I say these technologies will be used first for future space missions to map out and examine in detail the planets of the solar system before a human ever sets foot there.
Using nanotechnology scientists are now finding pairs of molecules that behave with identical properties large distances away from one another and move in tandem. The scaling up of the future technology surrounding this discovery and merging it with other emerging technologies will enable us to explore at a distance while keeping safe ourselves in a method of virtual tourism and exploration. But, this will not replace being there in person and experiencing different planets for ourselves.
Future space technology and the associated missions beyond 20 to 30 years from now are more uncertain as they will involve unforeseen breakthroughs in technology (plus political and social systems) and an increasing need for humans to work together democratically with less hierarchy than at any other time in history.
This is the place to see the latest news on future space technology and what today’s scientists, researchers and engineers are working on for tomorrow.
Credits: virgin Galactic, Star Chaser Industries, Skylon, Astrium