Final frontier?


    Bezos and Branson both went to Space this summer on Vacation.  Space is the flavor of the season. So yours truly packed his bags to Kennedy Space Center, Florida and did the next best thing: simulation of going into Space. Apart from that we saw the history and all actual artifacts of Moon Apollo Missions, Space Shuttle Atlantis, Mars missions and were drenched with a day full of infotainment. Maybe I had a better deal than both. I could spend a day and had a variety of training/simulations/5d Movies.  Bezos spent 11 minutes while Branson logged 1.5 hours. At the end of it both Bezos and Branson were stripped of their medals as Astronauts by FAA while I still have souvenirs bought at the NASA Store.

    Jokes apart, during one of the presentations there was a quote by Neil Armstrong: It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.   Eugene Carman said: “ We are a part of massive exploration that humanity has been doing since its inception. And space is the final frontier for man to understand. I was totally overwhelmed by this. Curiosity is the essence of human existence. ‘Who are we? Where are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?’… I don’t know. I don’t have any answers to those questions. I don’t know what’s over there around the corner.

    But I want to find out”. These space explorers and scientists are the ones who pioneer beyond this final frontier. Human beings have lighted darkness of the unknown through their quest to throw light upon the workings of the universe. All scientists including those who work inside a DNA who have fought against virus, those who have tried to find a cure for cancer, those working to find sustainable clean and green energy helping us fight climate change are the soldiers on the final frontiers as well Upon return, I had a conversation with my Physiotherapist and his team members. They were wondering what Bezos achieved by spending so many dollars to satisfy his ego.  They also were furious about the damage each of their flight caused to the environment. Instead, he should have paid taxes.  The same was said about Branson. I just tried to put space travel business and space exploration as larger objectives. I quoted efforts of NASA and other Government-backed bodies like our own ISRO to conquer the final frontier.  But is this current space travel hype or are they a part of larger research objectives.

    While we salute the pioneers of NASA who were then in the rat race of space in the last centuries it’s now private businesses and entrepreneurs like Musk, Bezos, and Branson who are in the race. This race is not for original research it’s a race to mint more money creating self-proclaimed ‘astronauts’ out of moneyed people.

    Bezos owned Blue Origin’s space flight flew to the edge of space, about 100 km above the Earth’s mean sea level—the Karman line, also called the ‘edge of space’. This boundary, named after Hungarian physicist Theodore von Kármán was established in the 1960s by Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, for providing a definition to space and separating ‘air-space and ‘outer-space.’ SpaceX flights (backed by Elon Musk) have gone way beyond this boundary and have even carried astronauts to the International Space Station. Both Virgin Galactic (owned by Branson) and Blue Origin space flights are designed for suborbital flights, meaning space trips within the Earth’s orbit and within Earth’s atmosphere. The vestibules and their trajectory are designed not to allow the vehicle to acquire the required escape velocity to reach the Earth’s orbit and complete a revolution around it. Virgin Galactic spacecraft has a jet-powered aircraft docked underneath. The carrier aircraft takes off from a runway and climbs to an altitude of more than 40,000 feet. Then the spacecraft is dropped, free-falling briefly before firing its rocket motor and ascending to roughly 90 kilometers, which is 10 kilometers short of the Karman line.

    Blue Origin’s rocket-and-capsule combo, called the New Shepard, shoots into suborbital space and then separates its components. The pressurized capsule floats in microgravity for a while before falling back to Earth assisted by a parachute system. This domed capsule boasts six observation windows. The 60-foot tall rocket section returns to the Launchpad for reuse.

    SpaceX has already entered the orbital tourism arena: a feat restricted to government-funded agencies for more than half a century taking crew and passengers up to 400 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The SpaceX launch system uses a larger capsule and more powerful rocket compared to the Blue Origin combo. Its ‘Dragon’ capsule can carry more passengers than the other-7 at the moment and a 230-foot tall rocket booster called Falcon rocket, which it uses to reach the Earth’s orbit and make trips around the Earth. The SpaceX trips also last longer than the other private space travel options, with trips lasting about 3-4 days from launch to splashdown. SpaceX is currently working on building a starship capable of carrying cargo with up to 100 passengers at a time to outer space. SpaceX’s charter flights will soon begin missions to the Moon, and eventually to Mars. SpaceX now outshines Blue Origin and other rocket builders, emphasizing how it has become the highest-profile partner of NASA in its human spaceflight program.  NASA last year awarded contracts to three companies for initial design work on landers that could carry humans to the lunar surface. Also, its promoted Elon Musk has not catered to his ego yet to travel to space.

    It’s just about who makes more money by taking more people sorry “Social-Media Celebrities: Astronauts’ into space. Is this right or wrong? Only time will have answers.  But I am sure space won’t be a final frontier for the next generations.



    Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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