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Minggu, 03 Maret 2019

The Space Race: A Sought for Inter-Planetary Colonisation?

Minggu, 03 Maret 2019 03.29 No comments
SpaceX' Crew Dragon launch from Florida. Source: Bloomberg

SpaceX launched unmanned Crew Dragon craft from Florida to International Space Station (ISS). As per Sunday (3/3/19) the craft is en route to a rendezvous with the ISS. This launch is a part of Public Private Partnership (PPP) between NASA and two private companies, Boeing and SpaceX. This partnership was announced in 2014, as a means of replacing the retired Space Shuttle in 2011.

This PPP is called Commercial Crew Program, aiming for the development and launch of human space transportation systems. Initially, these two companies should begin ferrying astronauts in 2017. Simply, a clear objective is to enable US government to fly to ISS without the need to buy seats on Russian Soyuz capsules. Ever since Space Shuttle retirement, US government had to pay $70.7 million for each one-way ticket transporting astronauts with Soyuz to, or from the ISS. It is the task of these two companies to make it a reality. SpaceX with the recently launched Dragon Crew spacecraft. While Boeing with it's CST-100, planned for unmanned launch in April this year.

In order to launch Dragon Crew spacecraft, SpaceX relied on its Falcon 9 rocket. Falcon 9 is a reusable rocket, designed and manufactured by SpaceX. Reusability of rocket is a key to reduce the cost required for space exploration. It was also Falcon 9, with which Nusantara Satu satellite was launched in mid-February this year. Using Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX has paved a history in 2012 for being the first private company ever visited the ISS.

Another thrilling fact that I could grasp is how exploration as a basic human natural instinct hasn't ceased to exist. Keyword: colonisation. It's interesting how the same old spirit driving european countries to sent out explorative sea voyage missions in 15th centuries, which eventually lead to worldwide establishment of european colonies, is now fueling this inter-planetary-scale quest. Natural exploitation is of course inevitable, but perhaps we can feel better knowing that there is no currently known inhabitants of Mars, so those tragic history of the conquests of indigenous cultures is unnecessary.

But humans, by their intelligence and free will alone, will sure to be always giving birth to conflicts. Natgeo's docudrama, Mars, presented those possible disputes between private and public exploration teams, on the early habitation of Mars. Well, what do we expect? Those two parties came to Mars for different objectives. Yet they had this resource problems at hand to be resolved.

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