A number of private and public space companies are gearing up for Space Race 2.0 – a competition that inches us closer to uncovering answers about our universe and exploring new realms of our own humanity.
In the first, which NASA calls “Earth Reliant,” we continue to test the feasibility of living in space and conduct more research aboard the ISS. In the second, operations around the Moon will be used to establish ways to return humans to the Earth safely.
While NASA spends the 2020s exploring how to best keep humans healthy in space, SpaceX plans to start putting down the infrastructure for humans to colonize it.
In his update earlier this year, Elon Musk revealed plans for a rocket that is far bigger and more powerful than NASA’s Space Launch System and even his agency’s own Falcon Heavy – the BFR. A rocket that big would have enough space for fuel to take humans to Mars, or even allow for Earth-based city-to-city travel.
SpaceX might be ready to send humans to live in space by the early 2020s, but NASA is a little more cautious. The government space agency is planning to put astronauts into orbit for a year to find out if humans are indeed ready to live on a different planet.
In March 2016, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly completed a similar year-long mission aboard the ISS to test the effects of zero gravity on the human body and what that will mean for future space travel to Mars.