The Future of Space Travel
What is Ahead of Space Travel
Imagine this, you wake up one morning, look out your window, and notice you’re no longer on Earth,you’re on Mars. This picture that I have depicted would not be possible without space travel. So what exactly is space travel? To keep it short and simple, space travel is the usage of astronomy and space technology to navigate and explore outer space. Space travel is the exploration of the unknown areas of the cosmos to see if human life can survive outside the planet earth.
The History of Space Travel
On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first person to travel outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, making a 108 minute flight inside the Vostok 1 spacecraft. 8 years later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people to land on the moon. Years later, technology has evolved to unimaginable lengths and have enabled us to discover more information about the universe. We learned about Alpha Centauri which is a habitable planet 4 light years from earth. So in order to explore these deep places of the cosmos space, technology innovations must continue to evolve.
Let me highlight two types of space travel technology that I think is super cool and interesting.
Ion Thrusters: An Ion Thruster or Ion Drive is a form of electric propulsion that is used in space travel. Ion thrusters work by ejecting ions, which are atoms or molecules that have an electrical charge. Ion thrusters emit positive ions, which results in thrust. The thrust can be controlled with a magnetic field.
Now how exactly are all these ions being produced? Well they are being produced by generating a plasma in the spacecraft. Inside the spacecraft atoms and electrons are released, and once they collide they produce positive ions.
These Ion thrusters can propel a spacecraft at 90 kilometers per second, compared to a regular fuel gassed spacecraft which goes 5 kilometers per second. Ion thrusters also have a fuel efficiency of 90 percent which is astounding.
If you didn’t understand what I said above, basically an ion is an electrical charged atom or group of atoms. An electron is a part of an atom, or molecule. It’s like a battery, but millions of times stronger. A battery works by converting the stored chemical energy to electrical energy which then powers your electronic device. The ion thrusters convert atoms and electrons to produce ions which in turn powers the spacecraft.
Nuclear Propulsion: Nuclear Propulsion is one of the various methods of propulsion that use a form of nuclear reaction as its primary source. Nuclear spacecrafts work by heating up fuel and blast it out of a nozzle. The fuel that used in Nuclear spacecrafts is hydrogen that is the heated up by a nuclear reactor which in turn propels the spacecraft.
To keep it short and simple, nuclear propulsion is basically like boiling water. Water is heated by fire and produces steam, whereas hydrogen is heated by nuclear reactor to produce Nuclear Propulsion. Nuclear Propulsion is billions of times hotter than boiling water. It is equivalent to a third of the sun’s temperature.
Factors That Make Space Travel Dangerous
Radiation: Radiation is one of the first hazards to space exploration and could damage a humans healthy immensely. Radiation is one of the most menacing danger factors to space travel compared to the rest of them. Since you are above Earth’s natural protection, radiation exposures increase the risk of cancer, damage to the central nervous system, alter cognitive function, and reduces motor function.
Gravity: The difference in gravity compared from Earth and outer space is another huge hazard when travelling to outer space. In space, astronauts are usually working for months outside of Earth’s atmosphere. In space there is no gravity whatsoever, astronauts will feel absolutely weightless. Bones, muscular, and cardiovascular system will be severely impacted when staying in outer space for long periods of time.
Hostile/Closed Environments: A spacecraft is not only a home, but also a working machine, the ecosystem inside this vehicle play a humongous role everyday. Important habitability factors include, temperature, oxygen, pressure, noise, lighting, and quantity of space. It is also essential that astronauts are provided with food, sleep, and daily exercise, to stay healthy and happy.
Space Travel is a huge technology that can shape the future and how we live moving forward. We will be using space travel to explore the deep cosmos, and gain more knowledge about outer space. These innovations that the human race is creating is ground breaking and has inspired me in many ways. Hopefully one day I can become an astronaut and discover extraterrestrial life.