Resurgent interest in space exploration and technical advancement has occurred throughout the previous decade. In 2021, billionaire space travellers Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson made headlines, while Elon Musk is aiming to colonize Mars.
However, it’s important to realize that these high-flying plans frequently have a more immediate impact on our daily lives, such as scratch-resistant glass, GPS, LEDs, memory foam, and heat-resistant metals. While the Covid-19 epidemic has increased the appeal of remote medicine, many of its ideas were originally developed to aid with space travel. When it comes to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, there is no way of knowing how many lives have been saved!
So, in the year 2022, where might we expect to go in space? Explore the most thrilling implications that humanity’s continued exploration beyond the last frontier will have for us all.
Reusable launch systems for orbital vehicles are currently considered a holy grail in the world of space travel because they promise to drastically reduce the cost of leaving the Earth’s atmosphere, opening the door to a slew of exciting new space initiatives that are currently out of reach due to their high cost. Space operations such as launching satellites and replenishment of the International Space Station will become significantly more cost-effective as a result of this technology. A SpaceX SN20 rocket awaiting FAA permission will attempt the first successful orbital launch in early 2022 utilizing a reusable rocket. SpaceX’s SN20 rocket is the most powerful yet constructed and is expected to carry people to Mars in the not-too-distant future.
At some point later this year, Blue Origin plans to launch its reusable two-stage New Glenn rocket into low Earth orbit — this rocket can be reused a maximum of 25 times before it can take personnel and cargo into space.
Back to the moon!
For many years, a return to the moon was not a high priority for space exploration. However, in recent years, a number of compelling strategic arguments have been made for doing so. Autonomous landers and exploration vehicles will be used to undertake most of these missions, rather than sending people to the desolate satellite. One of the primary reasons for the resurgence in interest is the belief that it will serve as a useful testbed for a wide range of technologies that could one day allow us to go to Mars.
“Small payloads,” mostly autonomous devices intended to find, remove, and process components from the lunar surface, will be the primary emphasis of these missions. Robotic landers from the US, Japan, and India are all expected to arrive on the lunar surface in 2022.
Commercial space activity will continue to be dominated by satellite launches through the year 2022. With satellite launch costs lowering and the variety of applications for satellite data increasing, this industry is seeing a surge in activity. It is impossible to imagine our daily lives without GPS and satellite imaging. There are always new applications being developed, such as combating pandemics.
Smaller and lighter satellites are making it possible for even start-ups to take advantage of the latest technical advancements. According to recent statistics, the cost of launching a satellite to a corporation is now equivalent to the cost of launching an app. One thousand tiny satellites have been launched into orbit by Galaxy Space, a Chinese company, for clients in the aviation, maritime, and automobile manufacturing sectors, among others. An AI-powered satellite network from ADA Space, another Chinese firm, will deliver real-time satellite pictures of the Earth through a network of 192 devices.
The world’s first entirely 3D-printed satellites, which Australian maker Fleet Space Technologies claims it will send into orbit in 2022, are another indication that satellites are becoming more affordable and accessible. The internet of things (IoT) gadgets that are increasingly becoming commonplace in households and companies across the globe are the primary focus of these satellites.
Cleaning up our mess
Space exploration has the potential to do as much damage to the rest of the cosmos as we have to our own planet. Up to 8,000 tons of trash from earlier space missions and dead satellites are already drifting in Earth’s orbit, according to estimates. Future space missions might be jeopardized by collisions, which could be disastrous, and many of the space systems we depend on, including weather predictions and GPS, could be adversely affected.
So, it’s encouraging that we’re already thinking about how we’re going to clean up after ourselves when we go beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. The ELSA-d (End of Life Services by Astroscale-Demonstration) mission, which was launched this year, intends to remove space trash left behind by future missions. With the use of magnets, it aims the debris toward the planet’s surface, where it will burn up in the atmosphere. The European Space Agency is developing plans to launch a “self-destructing robot” with the particular goal of eliminating a 100-kilogram piece of space debris left behind by a previous mission. Another trash disposal spacecraft named RemoveDebris will employ nets to gather floating junk.
Space technology vs. climate change
The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 identify space technology as a key to accomplishing them. This is an excellent example of repurposing materials that were initially designed for spaceship heat conservation and are now frequently used to insulate buildings on Earth. This implies that governments throughout the globe are boosting their investments in space innovation in order to deal with the issues posed by climate change on Earth. Decarbonization and global warming mitigation are becoming more and more of a priority for corporations as well, thanks to increased corporate awareness of these issues.
For example, a project called MethaneSat has been launched to discover and monitor methane emissions on the planet. As the IPCC reports, methane emissions alone are responsible for around half of the global temperature increase that has occurred since the dawn of the modern age.
Satellites equipped with infra-red cameras will be used to monitor the levels of thermal emissions from homes and companies in the United Kingdom next year, thanks to funding from the UK Space Agency. Satellite photography will be used by the Open University’s TreeView project and the UK Space Agency to map tree cover and monitor deforestation in connection to trees’ capacity to help sequester and store CO2.