Growing up it was always a dream to fly into space on one of NASA’s space shuttles. I always wanted to attend Space Camp but when I finally hit 6th Grade, only 6th Graders could go from our school, the cancelled the feeling. A feeling many had when the Space Shuttle program ended on August of 2011. Many questions remained about how and if space exploration would continue with manned missions.
At first this seemed like a loss, but in the wings were private entities such as SpaceX and ULA or the United Launch Alliance. Briefly, SpaceX is a private corporation founded by Elon Musk in 2002 with the goals of reaching and colonizing Mars. ULA was formed with a merger between Boeing and Lockheed Martin in 2005. With private corporations now competing to reach the stars, the hope would be to drive costs down and once again reaching the Moon and other planetary bodies like Mars could be attainable.
Being here in Central Florida and to be excited for the future of space exploration is reminiscent of how I felt growing up and thinking I could be on the Space Shuttle one day. This past May was a glorious day for SpaceX as they made history with sending Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into space and then docking their Dragon capsule with the International Space Station (ISS). This would open the door for upcoming SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the ISS. Astronauts, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi will launch from Kennedy Space Center in the Dragon spacecraft named Resilience.
ULA has their plans on sending crewed mission up into space as well. With the Atlas V Starliner this rocket system will send astronauts to the ISS. Other private companies have their plans as well and as they continue to research and compete with one another, there is a hope that humans will colonize other planets.
For now, I recommend a visit to Kennedy’s Space Center Visitor Complex on the coast to learn about the history of space flight and our launching into space and beyond.
By Richard Mendoza