Space Still Calls to Us

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By Glen Hiemstra

I’ve written before about our future in space, and why I think we need to keep investing. I was taking a break over lunch today and clicked on the telly, where I watched 15 minutes of a Dr. Who episode. It was set in the year 4000-something, and two characters reviewed a map of how humanity had now spread over three galaxies. One of the characters, surprised to have found herself in the future, protested “but they were telling us that humanity had just a few years left before extinction, what with global warming and global flooding, and so on.” It is easy to get caught in the trap of thinking we’ll never solve our problems, when history is pretty much a story of doing just that, though never on a smooth or easy trajectory.

Anyway, it got me thinking this Friday afternoon. First I had just tweeted this new image of the Milky Way last night, which captures a billion stars.

Second, I noticed an article today in which the European Space Agency has estimated that there are tens of billions of inhabitable planets just in the Milky Way that we see above.

And finally, I clicked on the SpaceX website, remembering that they had a made a recent announcement – and was reminded that the announcement is that the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft has been selected by NASA for an unmanned test trip to the Space Station. This company may represent the current best hope in the U.S. of continuing our adventure in space, and eventually getting to the near-by planets. They are also continuing to ready the Dragon for astronauts, see the two photos below taken from their website.

SpaceX and NASA conducted a daylong review of the Dragon crew vehicle layout using the Dragon engineering model equipped with seats and representations of crew systems. Photo: SpaceX

Test crew included (from top left): NASA Crew Survival Engineering Team Lead Dustin Gohmert, NASA Astronaut Tony Antonelli, NASA Astronaut Lee Archambault, SpaceX Mission Operations Engineer Laura Crabtree, SpaceX Thermal Engineer Brenda Hernandez, NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim, and NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra. Photo: Roger Gilbertson / SpaceX

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