If I was to say space travel what would your first thoughts be?…
Sci-Fi, Star Wars, Star Trek, or even Conspiricy Theorys?
Or perhaps none of the above?… How about NASA.
In 1957 during the Cold War the USSR sparked the biggest race known to man by launching the Sputnik satellite into orbit. This drove the USA’s need to be dominant beyond earths orbit by setting their sights on landing the first man on the moon. And in 1969, they did just that.
Prior to the big space race USA and the USSR had repeatedly sent man made craft into Low Earth Orbit. In order for a space craft to stay in orbit it has to travel at a casual 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour).
The space race inspired a generation of scientists and innovators, including, I’m sure, many of you. It’s contributed to immeasurable technological advances that have improved our health and well-being, from satellite navigation to water purification, from aerospace manufacturing to medical imaging.
However with each space shuttle costing approximately $1.7 billion and each space shuttle launch setting back the country a whopping $450 million per mission, you can see the financial strain the NASA programs creates.
President Obama – 15th April 2010
So NASA, from the start, several months ago when I issued my budget, was one of the areas where we didn’t just maintain a freeze but we actually increased funding by $6 billion. By doing that we will ramp up robotic exploration of the solar system, including a probe of the Sun’s atmosphere; new scouting missions to Mars and other destinations; and an advanced telescope to follow Hubble, allowing us to peer deeper into the universe than ever before.
But on the 8th July 2010 Atlantis marked the final space shuttle mission for the USA for the foreseeable future. So if either American or British astronauts want to get a ride into orbit it seems that we’ll be having to hitch hike with the Russians (our original competition) – good luck with that one!
So what about Civilian flights into space I hear you ask?… Richard Branson’s Virgin were the first, and currently the only “galactic” airline providing this service to the general public. It seem’s while their internet and media packages may be severely lacking in quality, I’m pretty sure this makes up for it.