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And So the 21st Century Space Race Begins

Updated on June 25, 2013

Tourism. It’s not just for Earth anymore. Hello "Space Tourism". The retirement of the Space Shuttle program back in August of 2011, has cleared the path for space privatization. Private organizations are hard at work planning and engineering private spacecraft and machinery that will be used to explore our solar system. Some of the top entrepreneurial minds of our time will have the chance to live out their dreams and explore space, in the near future.

What’s on the calendar in the next few decades for space exploration? Just about everything you can imagine. Tours around and on the moon, a reality show on Mars, even the harnessing of close asteroids for the mining of their precious minerals and fuel. Very exciting times indeed!

SpaceX. First and foremost, I'll start with the company that just successfully docked an unmanned container to the International Space Station on May 25, 2012. Fellow hubber seankinn has a great article about the successful mission here.

Congratulations are in order for SpaceX. They are the first private company to complete such a task, and they did it on their first try! SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk. Ever heard of PayPal? Yep, he founded that.

SpaceX Has a fleet of "Falcon 9" rockets, and the unmanned container that docked with the ISS is dubbed “the dragon” (as seen in my header pic – how COOL is THAT!?). They have plans to send a manned Dragon container to the ISS in the year 2015.


Mars One. "Human Settlement of Mars in 2023". What’s better than a private company sending a few colonists to Mars for the first time and making history? How’s about making it a reality show? (No, I am not sniffing glue). As hard to believe as this is, this mission has some pretty heavyweight entrepreneurs backing this up. Like who? How’s about the cofounder of Big Brother. You can read about the mission here. And, OH! I almost forgot, they are taking applications now. Sound like it might be something you’d be good at? You can apply to be on mars here!! P.S. -- SpaceX has partnered with Mars One.


Sierra Nevada Corporation -- Current project is the Dream Chaser --- just your everyday manned suborbital and orbital vertical-takeoff, horizontal-landing spaceplane. This aircraft will be taking two to seven people in and out of LEO (Low Earth Orbit), to and from the ISS. Anyone remember that old show "Great Space Coaster"?

SNC, the "Top Woman Owned Federal Contractor in the US", has been a leader in avionics, electronics, subsystems etc. since founded in 1963. Their customer list includes NASA. Check out the Vertical-takeoff picture in the wikipedia link above. Picture yourself sitting in that spaceplane on top of that rocket!!


VIRGIN GALACTIC. Sir Richard Branson's pet project is now booking suborbital flights. They are also building the World's first Spaceport in New Mexico... It's under construction now!

Stratolaunch Systems. -- "Pioneering Space Transportation". Whats Microsoft's cofounder Paul Allen been up too? Well LOTS, but one of his biggest projects right now is Stratolaunch. The plan is to launch a SpaceX rocket from the air instead of off the ground, saving THOUSANDS of gallons of fuel!

BLUE ORIGIN. -- Jeff Bezos. What's he doing in this space race? How's about "Working to lower the cost of Spaceflight". What else would the founder of AMAZON be doing?

BIGELOW AEROSPACE. Ever stay in an Extended Stay Hotel or Budget Suites? Entrepreneur Robert Bigelow is their founder. Bigelow's mission statement -- to build the "Next Generation Space Stations".

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    • Window Pain profile image

      Window Pain 5 years ago

      howlermunkey,

      I agree with your thoughts entirely, but my rant was not so much about the monetary cost of these achievements but two-fold;

      1) the great minds of our generation no longer serve the greater good of Mankind. Yes, they certainly do in modern health but that`s about it.

      2) my bigger concern, that we masses of fools blindly worship the wrong Gods; the excesses of celebrity wealth, the incredible excesses of ability to kill people which is at the forefront of all recent scientific human achievement. And we fools worship this garbage, the very source and cause of our economic despair, we cheer it on.

      It`s like when an uneducated very poor person blindly defends the wealth and excesses of Wall Street bankers, because he believes he might be in their shoes one day.

      We are all making this lumpy soggy bed we have to sleep in, and then we wonder and complain how it got so bad.

      We can`t believe we`ll ever got another planet within thousands of years. Thinking otherwise leads to neglectful stewardship of Earth. Besides, you and I ain`t going. Nor anyone we know or love. We`re here and we`re doing a lousy job.

      Ooops, I think I`m off my meds.

      No, I`m okay.

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      I think that there is some serious concern over global warming, a rogue asteroid, a super-virus, or some kind of man-made disaster that might decimate human existence. How may post apocalyptic movies have been made since the 50's? How manay blogs, tv shows, books, are out there about people who are preparing for "doomsday?" I understand where you are coming from, but I also unerstand the logic behind "finding a second home just in case". Not to mention the natural curiosity to see what/who else is out there. But I do agree, we do have many issues right here at home that one Falcon X Dragon could pay for.

    • Window Pain profile image

      Window Pain 5 years ago

      All this talk of space makes me think that I hope to see a man on Mars before I die. That would be awesome. These suborbital flights are kind of silly when you think about it. Like going to the ocean and only standing in the moist sand, impotently unable to even wade 'out there'.

      But if you already own a Veyron, what the hell, blow your money.

      It would be amazing if all this ingenuity could be turned to useful things that could benefit society. I guess the days of the benefactor genius are long gone.

      Now we exalt those whose incredible efforts are only enjoyed by those who are probably incapable of enjoying it. The marvels of the world mean nothing to the suffering multitudes. In fact, they exacerbate the situation and the flaunting of excess only makes it worse.

      I'm reminded of the Abbotsford Air Show, watching crowds marvel at a Stealth Bomber. That obscenity could pay for 35 modern city hospitals, and the Air Force 'needs' dozens if not hundreds of them.

      The world has gone bad when our greatest achievements are only enjoyed by the tiniest minority. Yet the greatest problem I see is that we multitudes not only accept this situation, we worship it.

      Imagine if all the greatest most revered minds in history only devoted their efforts to benefit the ultra rich or military conquest. Imagine if Alexander Graham Bell concentrated on weapons and warfare instead of; establishing the National Geographic Society and magazine, inventing the hearing aid and sign language, dedicating his fortune to helping the deaf and poor, inventing the hydrofoil speedboat, the first powered flight in Canada, etc. etc. {there's something else he invented, but it slips my mind}.

      What are the great minds of our generation doing?

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Thanks Jaydeus! I'm with you, I want to live as long as I can just to see how far some of our technology goes.

    • Jaydeus profile image

      Jaydeus 5 years ago from Springfield, TN

      I can't wait for it to be affordable!

      Kinda makes me wish I was born today so I could experience it in the future :)

      Great hub!