Space. The final frontier…
Star Trek sure knew how to make people dream about interstellar space travel, and although we may still be lightyears away from travelling to the far corners of our galaxy, NASA and SpaceX have recently announced their plans for several manned missions to Mars, reviving many aspirations for further space travel. But how far can we travel, and will the first boots to land on planet far, far away be those of a human or a robot?
Those answers might be easier to answer than some may expect. Up until today, the only missions to a foreign planet have been by automated space-crafts delivering rovers and other unmanned missions to the surface of Mars. Other craft have been used to gather data about the moons of Jupiter and Saturn as well as the planets themselves. It only makes sense that AI be the first to establish itself on another planet where we are unsure as to the extent of its hospitality potential for a manned mission, much less a space colony.
But at our current capacity, can a manned mission survive a trip to these destinations?
No, it cannot. With current technology it would be hard to send out a crew for such a long period of time. Mars is a feasible target but we must be careful to not bite off more than we can chew; after all space travel is still a very dangerous endeavour, one that will need some refining as we aim to discover more about our universe. The major issue isn’t just the amount of time that astronauts will be exposed to, but the amount of resources needed for such a trip and the lack of current spacecraft capable of such long journeys.
Mars’ proximity is the biggest advantage as far as testing out new technology, and could set the baseline for future manned missions, but until scientists are able to ensure maximum safety and survivability for these modern-day space explorers, manned missions past Mars might not happening until the next century. After all, science fiction has introduced a great deal of technology that could help with such voyages, but most are made up or currently unfeasible – such as sleeping pods, hyperspace drives and quality of living in general.
Don’t give up hope though! It makes sense for human exploration to extend to the stars, but it just might take a while before we are able to make daring trips to foreign planets.