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The Space Age: First Step into a Whole New Era

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October 4th, 1957. This was the date when the first artificial satellite any nation sent out of the Earth into the atmosphere. It was the first step into a whole new era, the Space age. Throughout history, the milestones we have achieved have made massive impacts in the study of astronomy. The interest in space peaked when the United States of America was the first to reach the moon and Neil Armstrong spoke these profound words ‘That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.’ (out of excitement Armstrong skipped ‘a’ in the communique he had prepared).

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The late 20th century accomplishments have indulged us in more mysteries of the universe. For example, the Hubble Space Telescope has captured images that leave us in the question of other stars and galaxies. Could there be life outside of our blue marble? Perhaps aliens? Yes, I know extra-terrestrial life can be a bizarre topic but really think about it, are we the only ones in the galaxy or even the universe? However, this all leads to a contradicting factor of whether it is worth it or not. At what cost do we stop or give up? Space pollution? Money? Lives? Not only space pollution, but also the pollution and rubbish we leave on earth which could make it uninhabitable in the foreseeing future. As an example, the Pixar movie Wall-E exhibits this potential global predicament and communicates to the audience why space exploration is undeniably essential. We, as a society, should be considering the benefits of expanding our knowledge and if it potentially outweighs the risk factors that follow space exploration. Firstly, space radiation lingers throughout the vast emptiness of space. This can cause a lifetime risk of cancer, central nervous system effects, and degenerative diseases. These reasons are enough to tell us to stop going forward.

However, as of now more companies are emerging, increasing the people’s interest in space again and this time it will thrive as we are uncovering new discoveries and accomplishing expeditions with ease due to the budget allowance from governments and private investors that believe that the future is in space. A company is already known as SpaceX, the founder being Elon Musk, whom I will go on to talk about further on in this project, is already improving our accessibility to space and eventually allowing us to colonize Mars and even other planets in different solar systems. But the real question is, why do we keep trying to explore space when the funds can go to pay for real-life problems, that we face every day on earth, where we will spend most of our lives in? That is one of many questions that I will further explore throughout my project hoping to spread awareness about why we must broaden our knowledge of space even though we know the dangers and hazards involved. I became thrilled when I was given the opportunity to do extensive research on this subject, which may come across as boring or irrelevant to a lot of people, but as a child, I have always been intrigued.

Recently I discovered a hypothetical megastructure called a Dyson Sphere (not the vacuum) which can revolutionize humanity and lead us into a new era of humankind. Furthermore, the Dyson Sphere theorized by Freeman Dyson has the power to provide energy not only to our planet or solar system but to a whole galaxy and possibly more. On top of an almost limitless supply of energy, which could help the future generations with space travel, to furnish electronics with high energy consumption, an example of this is supercomputers. Japan with the most powerful supercomputer Fugaku, needs around 30 Megawatts to power the machine. That is roughly the amount to power 20,000 households. Another reason I chose this controversial question is that this subject will widen my understanding on the enthralling topic. In addition, this project links to my career choice, Aerospace Engineering, making me committed to my work in this area of study. I shall explore the reasons that benefit our society and explain the risks.


First and foremost, we need to dive into the past. The first man ever to be outside of our atmosphere. Yuri A. Gagarin. On April 12, 1961, the Vostok 1 spacecraft launched into outer space, even though the journey orbiting around earth lasted 1 hour and 29 minutes, it bought Gagarin fame around the world. Seven years later, on July 29, the United States of America won the race to the moon. Neil Armstrong, along with Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr, and Michael Collins were the first astronauts to touch down on it. Neil Armstrong being the first to set his foot on our orbiting rock, he announced these famous words to the world on live television, ‘That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.’ (out of excitement Armstrong skipped the ‘a’ in the communique he had prepared) I believe he said this because he saw a vision of how space travel will be essential for humanity’s progress.

NASA named the world’s first space-bound optical telescope after American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble. In 1924 the American astronomer utilized a 100-inch Hooker telescope on the top of Mount Wilson in California which he then uncovered that besides our own galaxy, the milky way, other galaxies are moving away from each other insinuating that the universe is expanding. This is called the redshift, the shift of spectral lines towards longer wavelengths. Also determining the rate at which the universe is expanding. Still, revealing that in nearly every major galaxy it is anchored by a black hole creating that swirl design you see on national geographic or in the news about astrology. On April 25, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into the atmosphere, and the photographs obtained have revolutionized the field of astronomy. Capturing spectacular images of nebulas and supernovas that leave people’s jaws dropped.

Recently, the 43-foot-long telescope discovered the other moons orbiting our dwarf planet, Pluto. Nix and Hydra, which were uncovered in 2005-2006 are approximately 20-70 miles wide. The other two natural satellites, Kerberos and Styx were uncovered in 2011-2012, Kerbous has a diameter of 19km. Since Styx is the furthest moon from Pluto, it is estimated to have a diameter of 10-24km. The fact that the telescope that was flown into the edge of our atmosphere and pinned down the age of our universe is now known to be 13.8 billion years old is astonishing because something that was made in the late 20th century which is the beginning of the space age already taught us so many thing things. The most recent unforgettable moment in the history of spaceflight and space exploration is in 2004, Burt Rutan the founder of an aerospace development company known as Scaled Composites based in Mojave designed and developed the first private manned spacecraft to fly past our orbit, this space vehicle was called the SpaceShipOne. This caused an overspread into the development of astrology and space exploration and now we are in the present where companies such as SpaceX are leading this movement into the newly found galactic expedition.


Elon Musk, founder and chief designer of a for-profit company, SpaceX has and continues to transform spaceflight, sending off humans and cargo onto the International Space Station (ISS). You would think that’s the only reason SpaceX exists. Not at all, Musk has indulged himself into multiple ongoing projects which, with the help of NASA have changed the landscape of the aerospace industry. For example, the Starlink project, which is to send out 42,000 satellites over the next couple of decades. This is to provide high-speed broadband internet even to places where the signal is unreliable or completely inaccessible all over the world. So far, the CEO Elon Musk has launched over 800 satellites as of October 2020.

A mega-collection of telecommunications, 42,000 satellites. There shouldn’t be any problem. Or is there? Low earth orbit as it is, is already quite crowded and to add an additional 34,000 is going to cause problems not only for astronomers and physicists but for the people that have ordinary lives going on about their day. You point in the sky and admire the stars in the vast emptiness, or would it just be a satellite? In addition, the pricing can be expressed as absurd, as the upfront hardware cost is £439.00 and a monthly payment of £89.00, and of course let us not forget shipping, which is an imposing total of £54.00. If his goal is to truly give the whole world access to his broadband, I don’t think this is the way to proceed as many of us individuals across the globe would not be able to afford this. Could there be a behind-the-scenes goal, as SpaceX is a for-profit company? Circulation of rumors say that it is to access every electronic device that can connect to Elon Musk’s signal, this would mean having all details and private information of each human being on our planet.

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On top of that, the earth will be surrounded by satellites potentially trapping us on our little rock. For astronomers that want to study the cosmos, this master plan will be a substantial problem, because the Starlink satellites will operate at the same or close to the frequencies they do. This poses an obstacle where we will be inadequate to study celestial spaces. Posing a wall for space exploration is the primary goal. Nonetheless, another scheme that SpaceX has been working on is the Mars program, which in simple terms is to facilitate the colonization of our red planet. This will be the objective to make another planet other than the Earth to be habitable, this process.

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