It’s not been the best of weeks for space travel! It goes without saying that the saddest news was the crash of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo with the resultant death of the co-pilot Michael Alsbury, and the serious injuries to the pilot Peter Siebold. I suspect it’s going to put back Richard Branson and the Virgin Galactic team’s goals of regular suborbital space flights by several years! Then earlier in the week there was the failed launch of the Antares rocket heading to resupply the International Space Station. Thankfully this time there were no injuries, though you’ve got to assume that somebody’s wallet will be hurting and I don’t know what the impact is on those up in the ISS?
However, the above two incidents were not the initial reason for this post. Instead I happened upon the following remarkable article about a madcap Soviet mission to rescue a space station and it got me thinking. Take a few minutes to read it, and then consider just how courageous those cosmonauts were, along with the reality of space travel and heading out into an environment that only wants to kill you in an almost Heath-Robinson-esque tin can!
Another article this week that also got me thinking was this one about the likely need for us to grow the role of insects in our diet given the fact that our ability to feed the Earth’s growing population is going to come under ever increasing pressure.
And then chatting to my bro-in-law yesterday about the above topics along with the post I made a while back about our galactic importance, he made the important point that in many ways that our being a spacefaring species is likely to become increasingly important to deal with our population growth. So when insect burgers prove not to be enough, the requirement to find new lands or indeed new planets for us populate will become a necessity. Thus as much as people bemoan the cost and risk of space travel, the cojones of those who do push the boundaries of space mustn’t be forgotten and we should be grateful for the future of humankind that some people still want to boldy push onwards. It seems that being a slightly maverick billionaire (them not me) helps with that drive, since in addition to Branson, just so happens that Elon Musk has been talking up planetary exploration again recently too, so maybe just within my lifetime (which is another topic for another day) …