A horizon in space

On a hot, lazy night in July,
At the cottage, near the lake,
we gaze up, like astronomers,
Into the clear, night sky …
dark as a blackout,
Make mental notes
of twinkling stars,
the big dipper, Milky Way,
faint craters on the moon,
Watch as a shooting star passes,
crosses the sky like a UFO,
Wonder if God was the builder,
who constructed these cosmos,
Without a beginning or end,
wonder if other life forms exist,
somewhere, light-years away.

–Dave Hood

If you’re anything like Dave Hood or myself, when you cast your gaze upwards towards the heavens you can’t help but wonder about our place in the universe. The questions you and I might have, are the same questions our forefathers and their forefathers have grappled with since the dawn of humanity.

  • Are we alone in the universe?
  • Is our race the pinnacle of advancement or are we still in the technological stone age?
  • Will we ever make contact with extraterrestrial beings and more importantly, do we want to?

Many of those questions drive the narratives behind some of the most beloved stories in our culture. The infatuation with deep space exploration and the unknown is bigger than the marvels we see on the silver screen. There’s something ingrained in many of us; something that forces us to dream of re-visiting places we’ve never been. The phenomenon Fernweh (or farsickness) is a consuming longing to return to a place you’ve never actually visited. It’s the aching for a distant and unknown land, an ambiguous feeling that we’ve all probably felt at one point or another in our lives and it can be directly linked to space exploration.

While the darkest reaches of space can be terrifying, they, like the murkiest depths of our oceans beg to be explored. Some of humanity’s greatest thinkers in every age have dedicated their lives to shedding light on the mysterious shroud blanketing the secrets of space and interstellar travel. How can the technology we currently employ be leveraged to provide answers to some of life’s most complicated questions?

To Infinity and Beyond

Space travel doesn’t only excite scientists and engineers. For instance, Elon Musk has his sights and his finances set on Mars. He’s looking for technological and financial backing from NASA to get his vision off the ground and to get us to the Red Planet.

His plan is ambitious, to say the least, and it involves some technology that doesn’t currently exist. He’s suggested everything from gigantic, reusable rockets and carbon fiber fuel tanks, to ultra-powered engines.

Musk has even suggested a shuttle service that utilizes cargo-like spaceships capable of carrying a hundred or more passengers to the Red Planet, landing there, then returning to Earth to pick up more passengers.

For Musk, it isn’t just about visiting Mars; he’s looking to colonize it. The things he needs to make that happen are wildly expensive and with current technological restrictions, highly speculative. The point is, he and many other wealthy investors are looking to slowly start making our way into the universe we’ve studied for centuries.

By Musk’s admittedly loose estimates, purchasing a single ticket to Mars right now would probably cost around $10 billion. So there’s no need to expect a mass exodus any time soon.

Where Do We Start?

While there’s a lot of technology needed that doesn’t exist, there are things currently in place that could possibly help with deep-space exploration initiatives. Route optimization, GPS tracking, and vehicle maintenance are definitely pillars that would support every mission into space.

Currently, Actsoft has the technology in place to track vehicles from any web browser.  With our technology, we can provide near real-time or historical information regarding everything from vehicle speed, direction, and usage. While the scale is obviously magnified, the principles are the same; monitoring how cars, freight trucks, or even space shuttles are operated can potentially prolong their life spans.

At this point in time, commercial travel to other planets is lucrative. The dangers are real and they can’t be ignored, the costs are astronomical, and we have no real plan for sustainability. That being said, scientists, engineers, and investors like Elon Musk are currently brainstorming and tackling the logistics of traveling among the stars.

As complicated as space travel is, getting there is really only half the battle. Interestingly enough, Actsoft has the technology in place to help with people management as they move about in the field, and maybe that could be applied to interstellar travel game plans.

Be on the lookout for part II, where we’ll discuss the dangers and pitfalls associated with remotely monitoring people once they leave home base (or in this case planet Earth).

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