7) Floating colonies on Venus
When it comes to the exploration scope of Venus, the predicaments are potent, since it is after all the second planet from the sun. This not only translates to hotter surface temperatures, but also pertains to the composition of toxic sulfuric acid in the atmosphere, along with very high pressure on the ground level. Nonetheless, NASA has still let its future ambition known, by scheming to send actual manned endeavors within the planet’s outer atmosphere. And, they are devising to do it with High Altitude Venus Operational Concept or HAVOC blimp-like vehicles.
The ambit basically entails a team of two astronauts inside the 129-m long HAVOC dirigible floating at an altitude of 50 km above the Venus surface. This type of navigation protocol avoids those problematic scenarios (on the primary ground level) we talked about earlier, while also making it relatively easy to explore the planet by eschewing the complex mechanical actions of landings and take-offs. In other words, the space-borne explorers could temporarily make use of the HAVOC as a floating habitat/research center – where they can reside and also conduct experiments for a month-long period.
Although there is no definite plan in place, the endeavor could be feasible, especially since the Venusian heavy atmosphere is more conducive to floating an airship filled with helium-like substance. But of course, the astronauts can’t travel all the way to Venus from Earth in such ‘rudimentary’ crafts. To that end, NASA will first have a conduct a slew of unmanned missions that would not only examine the atmosphere of Venus but also test out the capacity of human technology in dealing with alien eco-systems. After such a testing phase is complete and declared safe, the manned spacecrafts can be sent to rendezvous with one of the orbiting crafts of Venus.
Another manned mission that is scheduled to attempt a Venus flyby in the next decade is Inspiration One. According to its original announcement, the mission’s backup plan involves traveling past Venus in the early 2020s, using the planet’s gravity to propel the craft towards Mars. The foundation’s website has since become defunct, with no updates about the mission’s progress. At present, therefore, both of these initiatives are nothing but wishful thinking. However, who is to say they might not to fruition in the coming decades?
8) Constructing a permanent lunar base
Monday, July 20, marked the 46th anniversary of the first lunar landing, by the crew aboard the Apollo 11. In the decades, since Neil Armstrong’s historic walk on the Moon, human spaceflight has undergone significant development and, has achieved some truly amazing feats. According to a 2015 study funded by NASA, we could return to the Earth’s natural satellite in the next 10 years, and set up a permanent habitation base in the decade following that. It provides detailed guidelines on how to reduce the expense of future exploration activities, by a factor of 10.
Human space missions, which usually require up to $100 billion, could be undertaken at nearly 90-percent less cost, thanks to partnerships between NASA and commercial space companies, like Orbital ATK, Virgin Galactic and Space X. humans could land on the lunar surface within the next five to seven years, a decade after which, we could actually construct a permanent base on the Moon. With an annual budget of $4 billion set for spaceflight activities, NASA was, until now, less than well equipped to single-handedly fund such space missions.
The report, however, states that the agency will have to spend no more than $10 billion, with each of the selected private service providers receiving $5 billion to develop a crewed lander spacecraft. Additionally, the plan proposes the robotic construction of an “Evolvable Lunar Architecture”, i.e. a permanent habitation base, by 2021, for humans landing on the Moon. Although NASA backed out of the Moon race in 2010, instead focusing on manned space missions to Mars, the study clears prophesies an exciting new age of space travel.
Several countries, including Russia, China, Japan and India, are gearing up for future lunar probes. The Russian Federal Space Agency and the European Space Agency, for instance, have teamed up to build Luna 27, an unmanned lander that is scheduled for launch in 2025. Its main task will be to survey the water ice and minerals in the satellite’s South Pole-Aitken basin, retrieving samples for analysis back on Earth. Following that, a manned spacecraft will carry a crew to the Earth’s moon, by as early as 2029. Igor Mitrofanov, a scientist at Moscow-based Space Research Institute, was reported saying:
The 21st Century will be the century when it will be the permanent outpost of human civilization, and our country has to participate in this process.