The International space station (ISS) won’t be the only extraterrestrial outpost any longer, if everything goes according to plan.
Yesterday (November 2), the giant orbital lab held a celebration 20 years of continuous human career, a milestone in humanity’s effort to expand its footprints into the final frontier.
The ISS – the cooperation between the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and the participating countries of the European Space Agency (ESA) – is still in significant existence: It is officially approved to work through. December 2024 and last until the end It looks like 2028. And whenever the station̵7;s race begins to get carried out, a number of other projects are ready to win.
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Houston-based Axiom Space, for example, plans to use the ISS as a starting point for its own station in low-Earth orbit (LEO).
Axiom aims to start launching new commercial modules to the ISS by 2024, to provide more living and research space for astronauts in the orbital laboratory. And, when the ISS is shut down, “Axiom Station will complete its construction and disassemble for future operation as a free-flying complex for living and working in space – marking the next phase of LEO resolution process “, Axiom representative wrote above The company’s web site.
Axiom will also provide other services, including arrangements Travel flights to ISS aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship. Axiom has contracted with SpaceX to do this, and the first of those broker-backed private missions is slated to kick off later next year.
California-based Orion Span plans for its own LEO station called Aurora, which the startup says may launch in late 2021 and start receiving clients next year. Capital is uncertain However, it can complicate a company’s goals. (Another company, Bigelow Aerospace, has long planned to set up private outposts in orbit and on the moon. But Bigelow laid off the entire workforce in March.)
Then there are the government space stations. China wants build a LEO outpost it was roughly the size of the Soviet-Russian Mir station, which was intentionally lost in orbit in March 2001. (Mir is about a quarter the size of the ISS, as long as a football field).
China wants to start assembling its station in about next year. The country has made significant strides in this direction: Since 2011, China has launched two prototype habitat modules into orbit and sent astronauts to both people, as well as a ship. supply by robot to the second one.
India also wants its own LEO outpost. The country is working on its first crew mission into orbit in 2022, celebrating the 75th anniversary of India’s independence from the UK. Launching that milestone will help pave the way for a space station, will be operating in 2030, if all goes according to plan.
And humanity will surpass LEO in the years to come. NASA plans to start building a small moon-orbiting space station called Gateway as part of its ambitions The Artemis Program the crew’s moon discovery.
The Gateway core – a habitat module and a power and engine element – is slated to launch together by the end of 2023, and a few more parts are likely to join the outpost after that . The Gateway will act as a staging point for the crew of the crew and crew to the lunar surface, NASA officials said.
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The Artemis program aims to bring two astronauts near the south pole of the moon by 2024 (a likely landing will not be used. Enntrance gate). But NASA also wants the program to do more – namely to establish a lasting, sustainable human presence on and around the moon by 2028.
So we can see an outpost forming, or slightly below, surface moon at the end of the decade. And NASA probably won’t build such infrastructure on its own; ESA has long proposed building a “moon village” and running, and many private companies have expressed an interest in helping mine and sell lunar resources such as ice.
Another important Artemis goal is to help pave the way for crew missions to Mars, which NASA wants to begin working on in the 2030s. Those early flights could lead to a research outpost. On the Red Planet, a base from which scientists can look for signs of Life on Mars and do a bunch of other experiments.
And we could see a true city begin to rise from the red dust in that same common timeframe, if SpaceX’s plan comes to fruition. The company Elon Musk founded in 2002 primarily to turn humanity into an interplanetary species was the prototype of the Starship, next generation vehicle designed to send humans to the moon, Mars and other distant destinations.
If Starship’s development goes well, the spacecraft will probably start carrying passengers to the Red Planet within 10 years, SpaceX president and chief executive officer Gwynne Shotwell said recently.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there“(Grand Central Publishing House, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.