It is fascinating to watch “givens” give way.
Until recently, it was a “given” that a space exploration vessel needed to carry everything it needed for every possible contingency. Every spare part, every tool, every medical supply, everything that a crew might possibly need had to be anticipated and packed on board. Today 3D printing can address almost any need a crew might have and is growing in capability
Until a few years ago it was a “given” that certain tasks could only be done by humans and that “given” pushed the requirements for ship size and crew numbers into impossibly expensive ventures. Today AI has allowed the development of robots capable of filling roles formerly labeled “human only”.
The most famous “given” of all is that the speed of light limits our speed of travel. Today, NASA is working on an Alcubierre drive that will warp space and put our star-neighbors within a meaningful travel timeframe.
Some of the steps are less dramatic than those cited above, CubeSats and solar electric propulsion for example. But all of these steps, large and small are taking us into a new era of exploration, and a new chapter in our story as a species.
ExploringSpace.Org looks at those steps, large and small, and shares the fascination with its readers.