By: Adham Hossam Abo El-Magd
Humans have been trying to dig deeper into space and find its origin for years. They are driven by curiosity to discover the unknown, explore new worlds, reach new heights and push the boundaries of our scientific and technical limits. The incredible desire to explore the unseen and to understand what we don’t know has provided benefits for centuries. Exploration and curiosity are vital factors to the human spirit. Without curiosity, humans wouldn’t be where they are now; all the way from discovering fire to flying humans into space
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”-Albert Einstein- " Life Magazine (2 May 1955) p. 64”.
The purpose of human space exploration is to help answer fundamental questions about our place in the universe and the history of our solar system. Accepting the challenge of going deeper into space will invite the citizens of the world today and the generations of the world tomorrow to help do anything in space exploration, even the least that they can to help change the world. The smallest of change today is the biggest of change tomorrow.
Challenges that Astronauts face
Space Debris. They are the remains of nonfunctional spacecraft, launch adapters, lens covers and abandoned launch vehicle stages. The US Space Surveillance Network tracks 17,000 objects—each at least the size of a baseball. These debris hurtle around the earth at incredible speeds; they can get up to 17,500 mph. While moving at such speed, they can damage satellites or spacecrafts or even at worst cases the International Space Station(ISS). Percentage of debris by countries can be seen in graph 1.
Space Radiation. The most dangerous aspect of travelling to Mars is space radiation. Our Earth’s magnetic field removes about “99.9%” of the radiation coming from the sun. Also, the atmosphere protects us from harsh cosmic radiation caused by the sun. However, in space, there is none of this. In the ISS, astronauts receive 10 times more radiation than they do on Earth. This may increase the risk of getting cancer, damage the nervous system, reduced motor function and behavioral changes. Radiation dose can be shown in graph 2.
Food. Have you ever wondered what astronauts eat in space? John Glenn is the first US astronaut to eat in space during the 1962 Mercury space mission. They eat freeze-dried food, which is quickly frozen food and then dehydrated in a special vacuum and later they add water to it. However, this method is expensive and astronauts try to plant their own food. This can be challenging because water wants to float around in bubbles instead of going through soil. On August the 10th of 2015, the first plant grown food was eaten on the space station.
Advantages of Living in Space
Improve Life on Earth. Space research has the potential to bring change to our lives by introducing new developments and opening doors to new solutions for problems we have suffered to solve for centuries. In fact, space exploration has benefited us in many ways. Approximately 500 operational satellites are in low-earth orbit, 50 are in medium-earth orbit, and these satellites play a huge role in developing our technology. They help locate minerals, measure the soil moisture levels which can help us predict droughts and monitor floods, forecast weather, satellite communication in TV, radio and GPS. Satellites help the scientist assess for how long will Earth be able to sustain life, detect changes in the environment such as global warming and ozone depletion. NASA helps tremendously in aeronautics as every U.S. aircraft and air traffic control tower has NASA-developed technology on board and they try to lower the cost of air travel.
Extinction Protection. NASA has already put an asteroid early warning detection system in place. In October 2022, for the first time ever, they will test ramming a spacecraft into an asteroid to see if they can deflect it off course and away from the earth. NASA has sent countless missions of robots to Mars. The main purpose of all these missions is to gather data on what it would take for humans to live there in case something catastrophically bad happened on Earth.
Spinoffs. NASA reported that it has saved 444,000, created 14,000 and generated $5 billion in revenue. This is because of the programs that NASA does in collaboration with different companies. NASA spinoffs technology has helped in the advancement in the fields of health, transportation, public safety, energy, and many others.
Disadvantages of Living in Space
Bone and Muscle Loss. One of the biggest disadvantages of zero gravity includes: bone loss, which can be one of the most serious side effects in long-term missions. The bone loses about 1% of its density every month in space. Over time, the bones begin to deteriorate and they get damaged in an awful way. However, astronauts on the ISS exercise twice a day to avoid muscle and bone loss.
Isolation. Behavioral issues among groups crammed up together for a long time can be a problem, even though they are well trained, they are humans at the end. This might cause sleep loss, circadian desynchronization, and work overload. This issue may lead to bad performance, adverse health outcomes, and compromised mission objectives.
Very Expensive. Space travel can be undeniably costly. It costs about 10,000$ to get a pound of almost anything up there. Many people disagree with spending billions of dollars on space exploration. They think that we could be using this money solving social problems like poverty and building hospitals and schools. However, the benefits we get from doing it is far more superb than its cost. In conclusion, we just have to keep searching and seeking for the unknown and working for those who paved the road for us and never giving up.
“I have not failed; I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”-Thomas Edison-