The future of our solar system, according to NASA, is littered with manned outposts. Here's the first one they'd like to build.
The ISS is pretty cool and all, and it's got a sweet view of Earth, but you know what? We live on Earth. Let's do some exploring! The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that NASA may have its eye on a more exotic location for the successor to the ISS: out beyond the orbit of the Moon, serving as a gateway to Mars and beyond.
An exact date has bounced around for the last couple of weeks, and NASA is finally giving SpaceX the go for a rendezvous between the company's Dragon capsule and the International Space Station. It's a landmark launch for SpaceX, and one that's poised to make history for the next generation of manned spacefaring efforts.
SpaceX is busy gearing up for a date with the International Space Station, but the company now has a second invite to one that doesn't exist yet. SpaceX has announced that it will help fellow private spaceflight firm Bigelow carry its inflatable modules into orbit, with the goal of connecting a bunch to form a proper station.
While the International Space Station provides a testing stage for orbital experiments, it's not the best launching point for, say, a manned deep space mission. Since that's exactly what NASA's looking to do in the near future, the agency is considering building another space station, one "parked" in an area where the Earth and moon's gravitation fields nearly cancel one another out.
From early designs, it seems people sure wanted to live in wheel- and ring-shaped space habitats. While that hasn't quite come to be yet — Mir, Skylab, the International Space Station and China's forthcoming Tiangong space station are all capsule-based — it's still interesting to see what space habitation looked like when engineers and artists only had their imaginations, hopes and dreams to guide them.
After six Apollo missions that delivered astronauts to the surface of the moon, the people of Earth have pretty much left the thing alone. Now, Russia's national space agency, Roscosmos is talking with NASA and Europe's ESA about establishing a permanent manned presence on the moon.
By the year 2000, we'll all be living in a gigantic space station built from moon rocks and wearing tinted glasses and goatees. Or so said NASA in 1975.
Don't get me wrong, the International Space Station is no slouch, but back in the '70s NASA had some pretty grandiose visions for what life in space would be like. We'd be living in massive, rotating spheres, in cities designed to hold 10,000 people and wrapped around the inside of cylinders; we'd have flying vehicles and space suits to drift around in, and even sweeping green vistas with lakes and birds and cattle. It would be our home away from home, and every comfort would be there. Just, you know, in space.