Travelling through space presents formidable physical and psychological challenges. In light of the Columbia disaster that claimed the lives of all seven crew members in 2003, it’s clear that up to the point of the accident NASA had been starved of money for several years. This prompted many in the program to warn that safety was deteriorating as a result.
To travel through space it would be necessary to construct a ship large enough to carry fuel, supplies, equipment, food and of course, people. It would also have to protect the crew from all of the dangers present in the cosmos, such as intense radiation, extreme cold, and zero gravity. At this time conceiving a starship of this kind is beyond our ability.
There’s another problem, one we can’t solve because of physics. We can’t travel at speeds faster than or even close to light. To make any significant discoveries in the universe this law would have to be broken. There have been some great technological strides over the past several years when it comes to building shuttles and the International Space Station, but could it be possible to travel near the speed of light at 300,000 kilometres per second? It seems a bit far fetched.
Back in 2004, U.S. President George Bush had outlined an ambitious plan to begin manned missions to the moon between 2015 and 2020, and also to build a permanent base on its surface. This is turn would serve as a stepping stone to reach out to the stars. Critics have blasted his proposals saying it would be ruinously expensive. Bush was quoted as saying, “It is time for America to take the next steps.”
He then went on to say, “We will focus our future research aboard this station on the long-term effects of space travel on human biology. The environment of space is hostile to human beings.”
It’s hostile indeed. It seems like we are moving just a bit too fast. Less than 1% of the federal budget goes to the space program, and the U.S. already spends more than any other country. It’s likely it will be far more expensive than what we are being told. We need to sort out some very serious problems down here first like the destruction of the environment, feeding the hungry, ending armed conflicts, and how to deal with the depletion of non-renewable resources.