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    Space Travel

    WOULD YOU LIKE TO TAKE AN ELEVATOR TO SPACE

    If you would prefer to take an elevator to space rather than rocket an elevator to space could  become an option in the future.

     

    For about 50 years now, rockets have been the only means of transportation to space but they have been known to be very expensive.

     

    A NASA Inspector General report once revealed that its agency spent about $491.2 million to get just six of its astronauts into space. That averages to about $82 million per seat.

     

     

    Space Elevator

     

     

    But based on some scientists believe, it is possible that there would be another means of transportation to space for astronauts and payloads in the not-too-distant future: a space elevator which could extend from the surface of the Earth to an altitude of about 22,000 miles where geosynchronous satellites orbit.

    The idea of space elevators was first introduced to the world in 1895 by a Russian Scientist known as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky who was a known pioneer of rocketry.

     

    He proposed that if a tower was built to be about 22,236 miles (35,800 kilometers) high, it would get to geostationary orbit which is the point where the satellites follow the Earth’s rotation.

     

    He also proposed that these could be used to carry payloads to outer space.

     

    Diagram of space elevator

     

     

     


    The space elevator will likely be comprised of a space station that is tethered between a counterweight in Earth's orbit and an anchor.

     

    With this tether, vehicles could climb to space like an elevator car using a cable to travel from floor to floor.

     

    The sideways speed of the vehicle also increases as it climbs higher and higher due to the fact that the Earth is rotating, which enables objects that are already in orbit to just take off from a dock in counterweight.

     

     

     Space Elevator Dock

     


    However, one of the main obstructions in the development of a space elevator is the fact that it will be one of the most expensive structures ever built even if it will minimize the cost of getting astronauts and payloads to space by about 100 percent.

     

    So even if it will be very expensive, it will help save a lot of money in the future. It is expected to cost about 10 trillion yen (which is about $90 billion).


    NASA has acknowledged that the main theory of a space elevator is sound, and scientists and researchers from all parts of the world have been looking for a way to build it as soon as possible.

     

    A global construction firm based in Tokyo known as the Obayashi Company has revealed its plan to build a space elevator by 2050 while China has revealed its own plan to build one by 2045.

     

    However, the schedule of the Obayashi Company is based on the fact that carbon-based graphene will become scalable by 2030.


    One of the main problems faced by researchers and scientist in the development of space elevators is the material to be used.

     

    The space elevator will require a tether that is built from a very strong, flexible and dense material that can be used to carry tons of loads for tens of kilometers from earth.

     

    This is mainly due to the fact that gravity will reduce the farther away from Earth the vehicle is so the cable has to have a tensile strength that can support about 5,000 kilometers of itself.

     

     

    Finding a material that is capable of this has proven to be very challenging for researchers.
    Some engineers have proposed that the tether could be made of ultra-flexible and tough graphene, but some time back, a study by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University ruled them out.

     

    However, a lot of researchers still believe that carbon-based graphene will be crucial in developing the space elevator tether despite the study by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

     

     

    Graphene material for space elevator

     

    Other materials that were also proposed for the tether are diamond nanothreads and boron nitride.
    The Japanese do not seem to be stopped by the material problems in their effort to build a space elevator. They have announced their plan to test Kevlar as a tether material in space on the ISS to see if it will work.


    REFERENCES
    Futurism
    Gaia
    Science alert
    NBC New

    CORPORATIONS PROPOSING TO OFFER SPACE TRAVEL TO THE PUBLIC

     It is now common knowledge that in the future space travel will be easier and space will become a common place for people to visit. The act of traveling to space for leisure, business, and recreational purposes is often referred to as Space tourism. Space tourism has been divided into three types and they are orbital, suborbital and lunar space tourism. Presently, only the Russian Space Agency has been able to perform orbital space tourism. However, work has continued on finding a way to develop suborbital space tourism spacecraft. A lot of aerospace corporations have announced their plan to provide the public with space travel. Some of these aerospace corporations include Space X, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin.


    As of sometime in 2010, the Russian Space Agency has stopped its orbital space tourism as a result of the increase in the number of people on the International Space Station.

     


    ORION SPAN

     

    The Space Corporation, Orion Span revealed its plan for the Aurora Station sometime in early April. It has been said that the Aurora Station will be Earth’s first luxury space hotel. The construction of the Aurora Station is scheduled to start sometime in space by 2021. This construction will be done with the corporation’s proprietary technology and construction methodology. However, the rocket system that will be used to launch the spacecraft has not yet been revealed.


    The corporation has announced that the Aurora Station will have two private suites with a total of about four guests and two crew members per stay. These guests will have to go through a training program before their trip. Normally, this training program should take about 24 months but the company has announced that it will be able to reduce the time to about three months prior to the visit to the space station. It was also announced that the first step of the certification program will be done online. This is done to make Space Travel easy and simple.


    The next step will be performed at the Orion Span’s state of the art training facility in Houston, Texas. The last certification step is done during a traveler’s stay at Aurora Station. The corporation has expressed its interest in partnering with Space X for launching its guests to the Aurora Station. These missions will probably cost about $9.5 million for a person on a 12-day mission which makes it one of the less expensive methods of space tourism.



    VIRGIN GALACTIC


    This corporation was founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2004. Virgin Galactic has expressed its interest in sending tourists on suborbital flights aboard its SpaceShip Two spacecraft which will be launched from an aircraft instead of a rocket. The initial plan was to complete the maiden voyage in 2009, but a number of setbacks have been delaying that trip. The most significant of these setbacks was the one in 2014 when the company lost its VSS Enterprise during a test flight which resulted in the death of the co-pilot Michael Alsbury.
    The corporation had sold tickets prior to its setback in 2014; the tickets were on sale for about $200,000 first, then it was later increased to $250,000. The company sold over 700 tickets before the accident. However, a second spacecraft VSS Unity has started its test flights. The corporation has resumed its testing as of April 5 with the VSS Unity which attained an altitude of 84,271 feet.



    SPACE X


    Space X is often considered as one of the most successful Space Corporation in the world and it was founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk. This corporation is widely popular for launching satellites. However, the company has announced its plan to send some people on a trip around the moon. This mission was scheduled for 2018 but it has been delayed. The price of this mission has not yet been announced.


    Although Space X is not a space tourism corporation, it is operating some cargo mission for NASA and other clients presently. This corporation has designed technology for crewed missions aboard its Dragon spacecraft which is often used to send NASA astronauts to space.


    The Space giant known as Space X has shown its interest in flying a group of non-astronaut artists to space on the moon by 2023. Space X intends to take six to eight artists that come from different backgrounds to space to create artworks based on space. This will be the first time that space art will be produced by non-astronauts in space. The company announced that the artists will be chosen from different disciplines including a director, a novelist, a fashion designer, a painter, and a dancer. These artists will also come from different cultural backgrounds and geographical diversity which is essential in making sure that the project has extended reach and tap into the interest and emotions of a large percentage of the population.


    Space X has also announced that the BFR starship hopper will also ferry some people around the moon. These people were later revealed to be Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and a group of artists. This event is set to take place sometime in 2023 as the first passenger flight for Space X. The famous space company also has plans to send two BFRs to the Red Planet, Mars in 2022 and four more BFRs in 2024. Two of the four BFRs that are set to be sent to Mars in 2024 will ferry the first humans to Mars while the remaining four will carry the supplies so that they can refuel and return home.



    BLUE ORIGIN


    Blue Origin is a space corporation that has announced its new program, known as New Shepard program in honor of the first American in space, Alan Shepard. This new program main purpose is to launch passengers to space in a capsule on top of a rocket, just like in the Gemini, Apollo and Mercury days. This program is still in progress and the corporation is planning to perform its first flight with humans aboard sometime in the late 2018 or early 2019. The corporation is designing the New Shepard reusable suborbital launch system particularly to allow short duration space tourism.


    The New Shepard plans to take a maximum of six people on a short duration journey to space. During the test flight on April 29, 2018, the rocket attained an altitude of about 66 miles. This test flight was the eighth and the corporation has not yet started to sell tickets for this flight. These missions will require a day of training which will be done right before the flight. These training will include vehicle overviews, safety briefings and mission simulations.



    SPACE ADVENTURES


    This corporation is responsible for launching about seven space tourists and it is considered as the only truly successful space tourism presently. However, the organization has not been able to send new guest to the International Space Station as a result of its capacity problem. The corporation is still trying to get new missions including one that will enable guests to take a spacewalk at the International Space Station and also stay at the ISS.
    Although this corporation does not have its own spacecraft, it has long been in cooperation with the Roscosmos to send its guests to space with the Soyuz.


    REFERENCES
    Wikipedia
    Popular science
    Singularity Hub
    Space