7 Great Developments in Space Research in the past 50 years

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Space is a boundless and unpredictable mystery for all of us. There are an infinite number of galaxies and the Milky Way Galaxy alone is approximately 100,000 light-years. In this vast abyss, we humans are mere specks of life. Yet, some of these specks have achieved stuff deemed impossible and changed our perspective about space forever. 20th July 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing, an event that completely changed the face of space exploration. It was the first time man stepped on the moon. Since then we have progressed rapidly in terms of space research and exploration. Some of the greatest achievements in these 50 years include-

1.    Apollo 11 (20th July 1969)

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” were the first words of Neil Armstrong when he set foot on Moon. The program for Apollo 11 was first scratched on paper and later physically tapped in using punch cards for the assembler. Even one mistake could lead to the loss of life. Today, in the world of supercomputers the feat seems unachievable in those conditions. But even with what we would now call primitive technology, we were able to bring back all three astronauts safely back to Earth.

2.    Pioneer 10 (2nd March 1972)

It is an American space probe that completed the first mission to Jupiter. Pioneer 10 was the first artificial object to achieve escape velocity to leave the solar system and it has a lot of firsts associated with it. Although it was supposed to be a 21-month mission; it lasted over 30 years! Our thoughts and imaginations about the universe beyond the solar system were turned into reality through Pioneer 10.

3.    Viking Program (20th July 1976)

Viking 1 was the first spacecraft to soft-land on Mars and transmit data. The mission lasted over 6 years. It was the first time that we could understand how Mars looked really and not just based on science fiction stories. Over the years, other space craft’s such as Mars Pathfinder showed us that life was possible on Mars. 

4.    Mangalyaan (5th November 2013)

Mangalyaan is one of the greatest achievements of India. It is a space probe that has been orbiting Mars since 24th September 2014. India is the first country to be successful in this mission in its maiden attempt. It took India only 74 million dollars for the entire mission which is very less compared to the United States which took a whopping 672 million dollars for the entire mission. Only 15 months is what it took ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) to develop and deploy Mangalyaan!

5.    Reusable launch system 

Reusable rocket technology saves tons of fuel and money. Generally, a new rocket is used for every new launch. In this system, the rockets after launching are brought back to the desired location and used again for another launch. This is a key development and perhaps the need of the hour as global warming is at its peak and every development, we can make to reduce fuel usage is precious.

6.    104 Satellites (15th February 2017)

India made history when it launched 104 satellites at once using its PSLV technology. 
This development again is vital to save time, money and fuel. Being able to launch 104 satellites in one go was a seemingly impossible task that was accomplished by India on the15th of February 2017.

7.    Blackhole image 

Blackhole is a region of space through which no matter or radiation escapes due to its intense gravitational field. The most recent and incredible development is capturing the image of a black hole. Black holes were only mathematical and scientific phenomena and a hot topic for all the conspiracy theorists and science fiction movies. Capturing the image of a black hole made what were just equations on board, a reality to be explored. It also gave a visual image of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Capturing an image of the back hole is just a start and the future possibilities are endless.

There have been numerous accomplishments in the field of space research and exploration, the above are just some of them. But one notable observation is that ISRO has been at the forefront of executing space missions efficiently and effectively and soon the successful launch of Chandrayaan -2 will be another feather in its cap.

All these achievements (irrespective of the organization behind them) make us truly believe in miracles and the untouched plethora of opportunities in outer space. 

Nobody could imagine that man could walk on the moon 60 years ago and living on another planet seems far away right now. But commercial tourism in space will be the next achievement on this list. The administrator of NASA says that the aim is sustainable growth of life to the moon and then Mars. Various other organizations such as SpaceX are working on similar projects and Elon Musk’s claims to colonize Mars might become an accepted truth very soon.

It will not be long before expeditions to the Moon and Mars start classifying as just routinely activities.

  - Sunidhi Shende

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7 Great Developments in Space Research in the past 50 years 7 Great Developments in Space Research in the past 50 years Reviewed by EMN on July 21, 2019 Rating: 5

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