Human space exploration is a fascinating endeavor that helps us answer fundamental questions about our place in the Universe and the history of our solar system. By taking on the challenges associated with space exploration, we can expand our technology, create new industries, and foster a peaceful connection with other nations. In 1969, when the first humans landed on the Moon, many people believed that space travel would become commonplace by the start of the 21st century. We would be able to visit other planets in our solar system and even venture into interstellar space.
If we want to avoid a fate similar to that of the dinosaurs, we must protect ourselves from the threat of large asteroids hitting our planet. NASA estimates that an asteroid of rock or iron, about the size of a soccer field, hits Earth's surface approximately once every 10,000 years. This could cause massive tidal waves that would flood coastal areas. During the U. S.
space program, a long list of gadgets, materials, and processes were developed for space exploration. Many of these have found applications on Earth as well. Freeze-dried foods are just one example; NASA has an office dedicated to finding ways to reuse space technology as products. In the 1960s, NASA scientists developed a plastic coated with a metallic reflecting agent. This material was used in blankets to reflect 80% of the user's body heat, which helps keep accident victims and marathon runners warm.
To protect itself from hostile nations or terrorist groups deploying space-based weapons or attacking its navigation, communication, and surveillance satellites, the U. needs to detect and prevent such threats. While major powers like the U. S., Russia, and China are signatories to a 1967 treaty that prohibits nations from claiming territory in space, it is not difficult to think of examples where treaties have been disregarded when someone saw an advantage in doing so. I remember being a child in the 1960s and dreaming of one day flying out into space for adventure. I can't recall exactly when this dream faded away for me, but I remember British folk singer Billy Bragg recording a song in the mid-1990s that seemed to capture something of what he was feeling.
In his song “The Space Race is Over” he sang about looking up at the Moon as a child and dreaming of walking through its Sea of Tranquility. We must consider that there are several other motivations behind human expeditions into space. These include competing with rivals, believing that space offers refuge from an increasingly fragile Earth, and eagerness to exploit raw materials from our solar system. We believe that these arguments are better suited for unmanned spacecrafts and explorer robots rather than humans until habitats are ready for human occupation. The fundamental question behind sending humans into space is not how easily astronauts can repair instruments in deep space or how quickly they can land on the Moon and build a base there or why they should travel to Mars and try to create a habitat there. Saturn has only been explored through unmanned spacecraft launched by NASA, including a mission (Cassini-Huygens) planned and executed in cooperation with other space agencies. A lot of attention has been paid to private sector companies that envision mining operations on asteroids but space miners don't have to go that far to find wealth.
Radiation is one of the most dangerous health hazards for space travelers, as it is invisible to the naked eye and can cause cancer. Mariner 2 has been followed by several other flybys by various space agencies often as part of missions that use a Venus flyby to provide gravitational assistance on their way to other heavenly bodies. It is easy to see how space lawyers have a bright future ahead of them as they challenge the term “national appropriation” which does not seem to rule out operations by private parties that do not directly increase a nation's wealth. The early era of space exploration was driven by a competition between the Soviet Union and the United States. Some spacecraft remain in space indefinitely while others disintegrate during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere or reach planetary or lunar surfaces to land or impact. The James Webb Space Telescope which will replace Hubble next year will head towards point “L2” which is more popular from an astronomical point of view (due to its location at Lagrange point 2) one million miles away from Earth. Valeri Polyakov's single-spaceflight record of nearly 438 days aboard Mir Space Station has yet to be broken.