‘Competition everywhere, but it seems that now, it has escalated onto an unimaginable scale, yes, there now exists competition between private firms for reaching Mars, something that would’ve been deemed fantasy a decade ago.
First, let’s talk about SpaceX, a private venture by revolutionist Elon Musk, it was deemed a sure-to-be failure sixteen years ago by investors and economists alike but it is now the biggest non-state contractor for delivering satellites and machinery to space along with cargo shipments to the International Space Station. SpaceX, for nominal society, was a huge step in the ‘impossible’ direction, people around the world asked the same question, “How can someone just start a space company, I mean, A SPACE COMPANY?” The answer is pretty simple, the Elon Musk way, he is not just a pioneer in space, but in the entire private sector, he has already redefined what ‘impossible’ is and seems like he will continue to do so. The single factor that makes SpaceX so appealing is rocket reusability, which has already saved tons of resources, money and assets. Rocket Reusability too was a much-criticised idea, it was considered impractical and too complex, today, rocket reusability IS space exploration.
“If Humanity doesn’t land on Mars during my lifetime, I would be very dissapointed” – SpaceX and Tesla Founder, Elon Musk
SpaceX perhaps, may be the best bet for reaching Mars, it was founded for the purpose of ‘enabling people to live on other planets’ and Elon Musk has also stated that on the scale of evolution, mankind becoming an inter-planetary species may yet be the biggest step we have to take. Reaching Mars isn’t just a scientific and historical achievement, it is the first step to becoming a type II civilization on the kardishev scale.
lets come to the company responsible for the title of this post and Elon Musk’s sudden increase in working hours, Blue Origin, founded by Jeff Bezos, who, unlike Elon Musk, established his spacecraft manufacturing company with prior experience in the business world, in fact, he’s the founder of Amazon as well. Jeff Bezos clearly invites more social power than Musk, he is already running a business that has become the leading face in worldwide shopping and global delivery. Blue Origin too is a campaigner of rocket reusability, and its getting attention too, its rockets have been termed as having the better structural design.
“I knew that if I failed, I wouldn’t regret that but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying” – Amazon and Blue Origin Founder, Jeff Bezos
NASA too plays a huge role in this, just moments ago, it launched the InSight lander which will aim to uncover details about earthquakes on Mars or marsquakes. The lander will provide crucial information about the red planet and may even help to assist us in understanding how it formed and how its structure evolved over the years to become the harsh, rocky terrain it is now. The rover will also uncover the composition of the mantle and core through recording the waves that pass through them, which will answer a great mystery, does Mars have a liquid or solid core? NASA is certainly the face of space exploration in the modern world, but it will be interesting to see how it works under a new administrator who has previously stated that Global Warming is a hoax (Doesn’t he know about Venus?).
Now, it is also mandatory to bring up companies such as Virgin Galactic. Virgin Galactic too, till a certain extent, is a competitor in the aerospace industry but it has other aims, while Blue Origin and SpaceX ultimately aim at reaching Mars (Hopefully, for now!), Virgin Galactic only aims at conducting sub-orbital flights.
“Mars is there, waiting to be reached” – former NASA Astronaut and second man to step on the moon, Buzz Aldrin
These companies have already evolved into giants, and are marked to be the first ones to carry humans into the depths of our solar system. The first frontier they must conquer is reaching Mars, the red planet. Musk, Bezos and NASA agree upon colonizing Mars, but that is far away, what makes Mars so inhospitable and forbidding? First of all, Mars is really far away and with distance, unpredictability and chaos increase, that is, the number of things that can go wrong increase. Then, it is also about the limitations of spacecraft, current Mars spacecraft carry less than one-tenth the minimum weight of a human voyage. Also, a spacecraft to Mars must also have the potential to get to Mars, land on the surface (after travelling through an atmosphere 10 times rougher than Earth’s), take off from the surface and get back to Earth and throughout this whole journey, must keep its inhabitants alive in space, sounds like a challenge? Then, Mars, as a terrestrial planet also poses a huge challenge, its covered in storms and craters and valleys and no part of it is safe, water can only be found in the deepest and darkest of places and the temperature there fluctuates a lot, from enough to boil you to enough to freeze you. Even in a single thing goes wrong, the whole mission is compromised (As ‘The Martian’ clearly indicated). Then, don’t forget the fact that going to Mars is a ten-year process, seven years of building, preparation, planning and analysing and three years for the mission and the journey combined. Mankind is bound to reach new frontiers in another decade, and by the time we step foot on Mars, NASA may have Jupiter’s moons in its sights (Europa looks beautiful right now, trust me).