Do new space innovations signal the beginning of a new golden age for space travel? Here are some new technologies that humanity can use to further space exploration and take to the stars.
Latest Innovations in Space Technology 2021
While this year has still proven to be hard as Earth’s population continues to reel from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, those looking to the sky can envisage a brighter future. The growth of the space technology sector is continuing at a rapid rate, fueled by space innovations from big commercial players in the United States.
Some billionaire entrepreneurs have already traveled to space on rockets made by their own companies. This looks like a new golden age for space exploration for both the private space innovations sector and government space agencies.
Space Innovations for Future Generations
Beyond these high-profile headline grabbers, smaller rocket startups and established government space agencies are also making great strides with space innovations to expand humankind’s access to space. Let’s look at some of the biggest innovators in the space technology industry this year who are paving the way for the next generation of space exploration.
NASA’s Perseverance Rover
In February of this year, NASA’s mission to Mars launched in 2020 will finally arrive on the Red Planet, depositing the agency’s new Perseverance rover at a landing location in the Jezero Crater. The project’s first goal is to search for evidence of organic life on the planet’s surface, predicted to exist on a microbial level.
The second objective is to road-test new space innovations that will be crucial in laying the foundation for human-crewed expeditions to Mars in the future. One example of these space innovations is the robotic helicopter Ingenuity, which will be the first vehicle to reach the planet’s surface that isn’t a lander or a rover.
Test Flights of the Boeing Starliner
In 2020, history was made when commercial companies started sending manned flights to the International Space Station, as the private sector became accredited by NASA to transport astronauts for the first time. One year later, other companies are competing to produce the most advanced space technologies development.
There seems to be a race emerging between companies that use space planes for suborbital flights and those that utilize vertical launch rockets. It’s a competition that should prove fascinating to watch, and this may ignite what is to be a long and aggressive race by commercial companies to develop new space innovations to grab the emerging space tourism market.
NASA’s DART Mission
A huge asteroid on a collision course with Earth’s surface might sound like a Hollywood script, but NASA’s scientists believe it to be a very plausible possibility. In response to this scenario, the space agency has been trying to come up with space innovations to counter such a threat. This has led to the development of its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission.
The mission will involve launching one of the latest rockets into a flight path that will collide with a passing asteroid to determine if the process can effectively divert the space rock from its original course. The launch window begins in late July, with the collision itself estimated to take place in the autumn of next year.
NASA’s James Webb Telescope
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has provided the agency with years of faithful service and remains an iconic piece of space technology. However, the agency has decided to put the Hubble out to pasture and utilize new space innovations to provide better space telemetry. Its replacement is to be the James Webb Space Telescope, due to launch in October of this year.
With a price tag of $9 billion, the telescope will not remain in a planetary orbit like its predecessor. Instead, it will fall into a solar orbit almost a million miles away from Earth, known as the second Lagrange point (L2), which will allow the telescope to utilize the latest technologies in space to provide superior coverage of our galaxy.
NASA’s Artemis 1 Mission
As this article is beginning to make abundantly clear, 2021 is proving to be a bumper year for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s space technologies development. The space agency is taking a renewed approach to its lunar activities. These will culminate with the return of a crewed space flight to the moon in 2024 that will put a woman on its surface for the first time in history.
Before this can take place, however, NASA will conduct a series of missions to test out the new technologies that will make this return happen. First up is the Artemis I mission that will test NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion model vehicle that will launch for an unmanned lunar orbit of three weeks. During this time, NASA will harvest valuable data on the performance of the onboard technology. If it proves successful, it will pave the way for a crewed Artemis I launch scheduled for sometime in 2023.
These space innovations point towards a bright future for the space industry. The private sector is also developing across the world, with small and large firms developing space innovations to send new satellites into space for commercial purposes. With such a rapid pace in the development of space innovations, new technologies are certain to help humankind achieve its dreams of space exploration.
Are there any space innovations you feel will prove significant this year? Let us know in the comments section below.