Predictions for Space Exploration Development in 2018

Updated on March 9, 2018
Thomas Glare profile image

When not working as project manager Thomas keeps his eye on developments of modern technology, believing it will bring a brighter future.

2017 was an exciting year for space exploration. We saw a number of launches by both private companies and governments around the world. Add to that the sad loss of the Cassini probe, which ended its mission to Saturn by staging one final descent into the atmosphere, and you had a year that saw space exploration come ahead in leaps and bounds. We’re happy to announce that 2018 looks set to be every bit as exciting. A number of private outfits have their sights set on lunar exploration, and there’s a load of government launches lined up as well. You can expect:

  • Progress towards the LunarX prize

  • Further development of India’s space program

  • Further satellites launched to continue NASA’s EOS

We Are Returning to the Moon Once Again

The year in space is set to wrap up with NASA’s InSight unmanned spacecraft touching down on the surface of Mars. If this goes to plan, it will mark a serious step forward in terms of putting a man on Mars. It will hopefully not be the first space landing we see throughout the year. Google’s LunarX prize has drawn attention from some of the biggest private companies around, who are pouring a huge amount of money into putting together their own space programs. The aim of the competition is straightforward: the first competing company to put a lander on the Moon, travel 500 metres and broadcast back high definition video and images, wins the $30 million prize. But there is more at stake than just money. This project gives some of the best brains in technology the chance to work towards space exploration, with backing from some of the biggest companies around. The innovation and technology they develop here can be expected to benefit some of the biggest national space programs. For instance, we can expect other companies like Max Polyakov's Firefly Aerospace to cover transportation of smaller payloads.

Space Tourism Is Slowly Becoming a Reality

Unsurprisingly, given the amount of private investment in space technology at the moment, one of the biggest developments is the progress being made in the realms of space tourism. SpaceX are one of the companies leading the way, with their Falcon reusable rockets showing real promise when it comes to putting together an ongoing, affordable space tourism choice. As things stand at the moment, they have been suggesting that they may be capable of sending two tourists around the Moon before the end of the year. If successful, it will be a landmark moment in the history of space travel.

Harvesting of Lunar Minerals May Be the Key to Cutting Costs

And private investment is also the key driving force in current efforts to examine the possible harvesting of minerals in space in order to keep perspective space travellers stocked up in the future. One of the key areas of interest is the prospect of processing lunar minerals to create water, oxygen and rocket fuel, and iSpace are hoping to make progress in these areas in the coming months. Similarly Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries are both looking at ways of doing the same things with asteroids. If successful, they could cut the $10,000 per kilogram it costs to life objects into low-Earth orbit.

These are a few of the major developments we can expect to see in the coming year, and beyond. After a relative slump a couple of decades ago, the space industry is once again alive and well. The real possibilities for private companies to put people into space has led to a boom in investment in the relevant technology. And with government organisations working towards putting a man on Mars, it seems we may finally be witnessing the dawn of a new space age.

© 2018 Thomas Glare


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