TEXAS (KXAN) — Nearly 55 years after man first walked on the moon, the space race has reignited around the globe. July 20, 1969 marks that momentous occasion, but it also has another distinction: it’s National Space Exploration Day.
Originally proclaimed a holiday in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan, the holiday is also sometimes called Moon Day. Since then, the space business has slowly grown but really took off in the past decade. Wednesday seems like a perfect time to learn about it.
Discovering the universe
Earlier this month, the first photos from the James Webb Space Telescope were released. These photos show the oldest stars and galaxies ever seen by humans, some of which are billions of years old.
Meanwhile, the Hubble Space Telescope has shown us the wonders of the galaxy and even a star from the dawn of time, thanks to a galaxy warping gravity itself.
Space Tourism takes off
Texas has become a hot bed of space activity. Elon Musk and SpaceX have found a home in south Texas, and they plan on building a new facility in Central Texas. Plus, billionaire Jeff Bezos chose west Texas as the launch site for Blue Origin.
Space tourism is slowly becoming a thing available to the richest among us. The Chainsmokers are even planning a concert on the edge of space.
Central Texas has even entered into the space race. Satellites, now in orbit, have been built in the area. Austinites have also designed food for deep space travel, some of which could be essential to travel to Mars.
High school students have even entered the space race. Students from McNeil High School in Round Rock won a competition this year and will get to send an experiment to space. Meanwhile, students at the Harmony School for Endeavor got to test fire rockets and train with NASA.
Benefits of Space Travel on Earth
Research at the University of Texas could also play a huge role in our journey to the red planet. A nuclear reactor at UT could help us develop the reactors we’ll need for deep space travel.
Our journey to the stars could solve problems here on Earth as well. A recent conference at the University of Texas hosted astronauts who are researching a dangerous childhood disease. They said the research they’re doing in zero gravity could help them find a solution.
There have been some downsides to space travel. We’ve put a lot of junk in space and tracking it has been difficult. There is some concern that junk could be bad news for the Webb telescope.
What’s next for Space Travel
NASA and the space industry have one major goal: Mars. People are experimenting with living on the red planet. Austinites are hoping to build breweries once we arrive.
Getting there requires a return to the moon. Artemis I is our next big trip, scheduled to launch this August. It will carry a passenger with some unique ties to Texas and Austin. NASA has already performed several test launches ahead of the big launch.
Once NASA lands on the moon, they will build the first moon base and a “Gateway” in lunar orbit that will be used as a launching point to Mars. The plan is to land on the moon in 2027, nearly 50 years since our last visit.