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Space exploration research project

Graham Conger

Eng 100

The modern world is an incredible place. We have come so far as a civilization that we

have reached the ability to entirely eradicate diseases, travel from one side of the globe to

another in a matter of hours, and even choose men and women to break free from the confines

of our own celestial home and venture into the heavens above. Our current rate of

technological advancement is staggering, and is predicted to accelerate to even greater levels in

years to come. However, all of this incredible advancement has come at an immense cost. We

have found ourselves primarily reliant upon highly pollutive, non-renewable sources of fuel to

sustain the massive amounts of energy our civilization requires. As we struggle to switch to

renewable forms of energy to further our survival. It is becoming apparent to many that there

will come a time in which the earth, as a whole, will no longer be a viable environment for the

continuation of mankind. Therefore, we will be forced to leave earth in search of a new place in

the cosmos to call home. If we wish to make this possible, we must make continual

advancements in the realm of space exploration and travel from now to the near and distant

future. So as to ensure that the technology needed for interstellar/planetary travel is available

when it is needed.

For this reason I have decided to conduct research into current and prospective developments

in various forms of space technology, as well as attempt to gain a basic overview of the current
status of space exploration/colonization internationally (e.g. what planning various space

programs of the world have in place) and where it is predicted to go in the near future.

To begin my investigation I began close to home in our own orbital environment. Many of

todays technologies rely upon satellite signals Modern television and radio, internet routing,

navigation, credit card authorization and automated teller banking services would not be

possible without satellite communication. (RECIEL). With these satellites comes the means to

deliver them, such as rocket components and payloads(needed for supplemental use in cases

such as provisions to the international space station) After use, these components are rendered

useless. And if they do not fall to earth, are designated space junk or space debris. Space

junk also includes any other kind of man-made objects adrift in orbit of any size. This debris

poses a major problem to the future of space exploration as it can pose great danger to

functional satellites and spacecraft. This is due to the fact that objects in orbit can reach speeds

of 10 kilometers per second. Which upon impact, even in the case of small objects, generate

massive amounts of kinetic force and therefore immense damage. How to contend with the

growing threat of space junk is currently a matter of debate. Protection of the orbital

environment is claimed by some to be covered as a part of the Outer Space Treaty and the

other international agreements that it led to: the other four major international conventions:

the Rescue Agreement, the Liability Convention, the Registration Convention and the Moon

Agreement. (RECIEL).Among these are the governing rules of the treatment of, and property

rights of outer space. Including the rules that Nobody may lay claim to the moon or other

celestial body, and that nations must be held liable for any action, be it voluntary or accidental,

that they make in outer space. As it is designated by these agreements as a shared commodity
by all the nations of earth. The issue lies in that there is no explicit mention of the

treatment/prevention of space debris in any of the aforementioned documents. This is due to

the fact that at the time of their drafting, space debris was not yet a issue and was not foreseen

as being a potential cause of concern. An agreement explicitly calling for the mitigation of the

creation of space junk (and hopefully exploration of possible cleanup methods) must be

implemented to prevent the further pollution of the orbital environment and possibly Kessler

syndrome the development of a belt of debris encircling the earth so dense it prevents further

usage, effectively grounding us. Leaving earth would be wholly impossible if any craft

attempting to do so would be ripped to shreds simply trying to leave earth. It would also render

the next subject of my study impossible.

That being the concept of a space elevator. While the notion may seem outlandish at first, it is a

very real possibility and could promise the capability to make leaps and bounds forwards in the

development of new space exploration technologies. The space elevator is by no means a new

concept and has in fact been theorized for some time. The space elevator was proposed over

40 years ago but only recently has a scenario for construction of a viable system

emerged(Edwards) With technical aspects aside, the elevator would be after completion

capable of five times the launch capability of the current global market at a fraction of the cost.

The ability to drastically increase the possible amount supplies, and later people, into orbit.

While simultaneously immensely lowering the cost would undoubtedly be a major boon for the

prospect of space travel and exploration. Especially considering the additional possibility of

building subsequent elevators on other celestial bodies such as the Moon, Mars and asteroids

to travel throughout the solar system utilizing what could be considered a high initial
investment, long term gain method of transport. Therein lies the one major drawback of this

concept, the price. While after its construction a space elevator would be exponentially more

cost effective than current chemical fuel based rockets for all intended purposes. The initial

investment for its creation is projected to be 10 billion USD, a price tag so steep that it would

likely need to be constructed by either a private entity, or a coalition of various nations

investing together. Beyond the initial financial hurdle, the possibility of constructing a space

elevator is very real. The technology to make it come to be is finally here.The long term

benefits, in my eyes, would outweigh the initial cost. As it would greatly increase the ease of

travel to the moon and Mars two possible (temporary) future homes for humanity.

Which raises the question, what is the current status of the push for lunar colonization? It has

been 46 years since the first moon landing, and yet humanity has yet to establish any kind of

home away from home on our nearest companion in the cosmos. Lunar colonization is

defined by Raymond B.. Gavert as the attainment of communities on the Moon that are

populated by families. The presence of families would require that there will be enough work

on the Moon for a sufficient amount of time to motivate the worker and his employer to create

habitation infrastructure on the Moon to support the families. The sad truth of the matter is

that currently, none of the major space faring nations of the world have plans in place to make

a manned journey to the moon, let alone colonize it. It must be noted that the only nations that

have actually sent humans into space independently are The United States, Russia, and China.

And of that only the United states has placed humans on the moon. The feat of placing men on

the moon was due to the space race between the United States and Russia during the cold

war.During which Americas competitive drive to beat Russia to the moon meant that NASA had
the funding to complete such a task. But now with little interest by the general public in space

exploration. Plus a broader set of responsibilities aeronautics, space science, earth science,

and space operations. In addition, there are the International Space Station, Hubble

Telescope(Gavert) NASA doesnt have the funding to pursue a lunar colonization program. Nor

do the space programs of the other spacefaring nations of the world. So for a lunar colony to

become a reality, wealthy commercial interests must adopt a so called hitchhiker strategy to

establish their own facilities alongside the operations of the space programs of nations around

the world. Simply put, while say for example NASA sends a new robotics unit to the moon for

research of the lunar surface. Elon Musk of SpaceX sends along with it, a capsule meant to

house a family on the moons surface. The continuation of this process over time, with various

benefactors, slowly leads to the establishment of a colony by private industry via hitchhiking

along on the operations of state-run space programs. This is not necessarily an ideal method of

colonization programing. As it will be through the interests of private benefactors/corporations,

rather than by national space programs. With that said though, if any sort of Lunar colony is to

be established in the near future it will have to be through this method.

While the dream of human of colonization the moon, followed by colonization of Mars are both

currently just beyond our grasp. The possibility of (physical)human exploration of more distant

worlds is a different story. Over the course of just a few decades the capabilities of

telepresence have progressed forwards by leaps and bounds. Telepresence is the technical

term for control from a distance. A perfect example would be the Curiosity rover on Mars.

While man has yet to set foot on the surface of Mars. We still know just as much about its

surface as if we had, if not even more so. Thanks to the various capabilities of the rover that
even millions of miles away we have(with some delay) direct control over. Telepresence is

beginning to change the way the concept of space travel is perceived. No longer is it solely the

image of a human being setting foot on a desolate landscape that comes to mind. But possibly

the visage of a specialized rover designed to tackle the harsh new environment. The primary

reasoning for the usage of telepresence now is the same as it is for the future of space

exploration; Research and discovery are much easier to attain if the safety of human subjects

doesnt need to be taken into account. As such, exploration efforts are going to be almost

entirely through the usage of telepresence. Unfortunately with this comes a great deal of

latency. The amount of time it takes for commands to reach robotics, and for data to be sent

back increases with distance. So the further out we go, the longer the response time. This

would mean that given an unexpected scenario were to arise that jeopardized the safety of a

craft, say an incoming asteroid, while at great distance from earth. Both the report from the

craft of the incoming threat, as well as command upon how to avoid the threat, would take a

great deal of time to transmit. Due to this, either the craft would have to be able to avoid

damage on its own through autonomous control. Or it would be destroyed as commands to

react would take too long to reach the craft. For latencys sake, humans are unlikely to be

taken entirely out of the picture of space exploration.

But if humans are expected to continue as an integral part of space exploration simply how to

keep them fed during travel is going to be a major issue. The food system for NASA has not

changed much since it was created. Meaning that all foodstuffs go up in a shelf stable form, and

are stored at ambient temperature. However It has been stated that if humans wish to travel

to the moon and beyond, a new system will be needed; The change in mission duration for
trips to asteroids, Mars, and other extended missions beyond low Earth orbit will necessitate an

evolution of the food system(Cooper) In the example of Mars, if a manned mission were to be

made. Food for the trip would have to be sent separately before the arrival of crew. This means

that by the time of arrival food would be 3 to 5 years old and unfortunately; current

prepackaged foods have a stated shelf life of 18 mo. This poses a major problem for NASA and

all other nations space programs. NASA has now set the guidelines to which food requirements

must meet; (1) Nutrient-dense, shelf stable foods that meet overall sensory acceptability

metrics; (2) shelf stable menu items with at least a 5-y shelf life; (3) partial gravity cooking

processes with minimization of microbial risk; (4) sustained vitamin delivery in shelf stable

foods; (5) a packaging material that meets high-barrier, low-mass, and process-compatibility

constraints.(Cooper) If even one of these requirements is not met, the food is not mission

ready. Therein lies the difficulty, while a given food supplement may fill all other criteria. If it is

not palatable enough or appealing to the consumer than it is worthless. Vis-versa is true, a dish

could be very appealing and nutritious to a consumer but if not capable of extended(and

efficient) storage, would spoil and would be rendered worthless. Further advancement in food-

storage will need to be developed if deep-space, or at the very least interplanetary, travel by

humans is to become a reality. Unless there is the possibility of developing food production

facilities onboard a spacecraft. I was unable to find any texts providing logistics for such an idea,

so I cannot assume such an idea has reached serious consideration.

The horizons of space exploration are open to all under international law and are showing

incredible possibilities. Such as the creation of an elevator into space or colonies on the moon.

But they come at a cost, and unfortunately as the nations of the world have begun to lose
interest in space, it will be left to private commercial interest to step up and make strides into

space where those nations no longer can. If this is not the case space exploration/development

will at worst, cease, at best, stagnate.

Citations:

Lester, Dan. "Achieving Human Presence In Space Exploration." Presence: Teleoperators &

Virtual Environments 22.4 (2013): 345-349. Applied Science & Technology. Ebscohost. Web.

<http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libsrv.wku.edu/>.

Edwards, Bradley C. "A Space Elevator Based Exploration Strategy." AIP Conference

Proceedings 699.1 (2004): 854-862. Ebscohost. Web.

<http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libsrv.wku.edu/>.
Cooper, Maya, Grace Douglas, and Michele Perchonok. "Developing the NASA Food System for

Long-Duration Missions." Journal of Food Science 76.2 (2011). Ebscohost. Web.

<http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libsrv.wku.edu/>.

Gavert, Raymond B. "Lunar Colonization And NASAS Exploration Changes." AIP Conference

Proceedings 813.1 (2006): 1033-1040. .Ebscohost. Web.

<http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libsrv.wku.edu/>

Cinelli, Claudia, and Katarzyna Pogorzelska. "The Current International Legal Setting For The

Protection Of The Outer Space Environment: The Precautionary Principle Avant La Lettre The

Current International Legal Setting For The Protection Of The Outer Space Environment: The

Precautionary.."Review Of European Comparative & International Environmental Law 22.2

(2013): 186-201. Business Source Premier. Ebscohost. Web.

<http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libsrv.wku.edu/>