While I can still time stamp this piece with the date of May 25, 2012, I want to send out my congratulations to everybody at SpaceX for their historic, and maybe pivotal achievement. Some news outlets actually allowed a brief break in the rushing river of tabloid hooey to take notice of today’s event.
The SpaceX rocket Dragon docked with the International Space Station today. It means nothing less than the beginning of private space flight. Today is the beginning. Bringing in private money and initiative will transform space exploration and lead to exponentially more people living and working in space. And not just in earth orbit, though that is where it all begins.
The exploration of the solar system and beyond will be done in baby steps, at first not straying too far from home. First will be the orbiting hotels, and the birth of space tourism. (Zero gravity honeymoons) Manufacturing in zero gravity factories will come next. Then the lunar colonies will arrive, with mining and preparations for bigger space craft launches. In the following fifty to one hundred years, the next generation will make the real steps into outer space.
Everything needed is in place. Bear in mind, city dwellers on Earth live in largely artificial environments already. Ground water exists on the Moon and on Mars. The creation of domed cities with man-made atmospheres will begin as small domed towns, and expand from there. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this will all be attempted with contemporary technology. Nobody is suggesting that. Colonizing Mars will be achieved with the technology of the next century, but it will happen. The baby steps are within our grasp now, and they are in motion. You’ll be able to check into the first hotel in orbit within a few years. Every step forward in space is a step away from the anti-intellectual attitude that turned out on the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk to condemn and ridicule the Wright Brothers first flight.
Ironically, that epochal achievement of December 17th, 1903, didn’t make much of a splash in the news back then. Today’s mission was a turning point that may also have been missed by most folks, but will not be ignored in future history books. Again, that date was May 25, 2012, for the birth of the space age proper.