History of Space Exploration
For ages, man has always longed to venture into the worlds beyond the sky. This idea as abstract as it was then, was hatched when Galileo Galilei observed the moon with the help of a crude telescope. From the advancement in technology propelled by the industrial age, arose the possibility of the reality of the dream.
One of such dreams was brought to light by the attempts of Soviet space explorations. The secrecy with which the attempt was made added to the shock to the world when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1. This had not been anticipated. The USSR and the United States were in a cold war in the 20th century, thus explains why the US government felt challenged by the launch on the October 4, 1957.
The launch set the pace for the US government, to set the first human on the moon and back on earth. The Soviet Union amongst many failures, had finally managed to send a space ship on the moon. Kennedy wanted to send United States citizens to and fro safely. Soviet Union had taken the leadership in space exploration which they deemed untrue (Swanson et al., 10).
Motivated by the need to be the lead country in the world, the project was set under strict surveillance choreographed by the Kennedy government. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was given the responsibility to make the dream come true. All arrangements and necessary planning was undertaken.
NASA rolled out a well-designed plan, bringing on board all the experts in the field. The project brought varied expertise on board, working together to achieve a common goal. Medical doctors were brought to help with research on the health of the astronauts who would land in space and the effect of contamination by heavenly bodies. The engineers were to design the rockets, there were scientists who would assist in the research.
The project took long to finally achieve. 10 Apollos were tried before the eventual success in 1969, as Kennedy had pledged. The Americans had supported Kennedy in 1961 when he declared the start of the project, with Mercury. With the proper political will amongst a majority of Americans, funds were availed and the project began. It was not until 1969 when Armstrong and his counterparts walked on moon, almost a decade later. There were several attempts made all aimed at perfection before Apollo 11 finally made the epochal landing on the moon. This became the greatest part of history for historians in classifying the 20th century.
Shortcomings of the Apollo program
In spite of the numerous benefits of the Apollo project, shortcomings were plenty. From the death of experts, the nature of the project’s sophistication which called for enormous funds and the risks involved to need for large labor.
There were tragedies during the whole process since its inauguration to the achievement of the set goals. There are astronauts who died during the test of the space craft. Fire broke out when they scientists were testing the suitability of using pure oxygen in the ship. All the occupants were killed by the raging inferno. According to Swanson (2012), in 1967, there was another accident where three astronauts died. The death of these astronauts just two years to the major flight was a real blow to the project. These catastrophes however, made the mission possible as it opened room for perfection of scientific knowledge required.
The project required a huge chunk of funds which had been set aside for other development goals. Up to date, NASA spends billions of money in research and space exploration missions. These activities are very expensive and in as much as there was political goodwill at the inauguration of the project, there are still a sect of American citizens who believe that the whole idea is a hoax. The development of the technology used, the machines used are very expensive to build due to their sophistication.
The United States is under on a low labor crisis era. Apollo program was an enormous program that required very many employees. According to Swanson (2012), over 400,000 engineers, technicians and scientists were brought on board. The magnitude of the project called for high labor, depriving other industries of the same. It was during this era that the benefits were not yet formulated. All that was motivating the mission was the spirit of adventure, which had nothing to do with challenges America was facing at that time.
The significance of the project
The United states was fighting for leadership in space projects, thus when USSR made their first launch, there called for a response to prove superiority. The US felt the need to be the super power country in the world in terms of technology, military and leadership. PresidentKennedy had the responsibility of maintaining the honor of America. In 1961 when he declared the mission within the decade, public funds were put to budget in bid to complete the mission as scheduled.
The project has contributed greatly towards knowledge on the outer space. It has helped unveil some of the mysteries the world has had for ages. This makes the Apollo program highly monumental not only to the US government, but also the rest of the world as a whole. There have been queries about the presence of life in other places apart from earth, people have imagined whether other planets are just like the earth or whether they are unique, whether the earth is the only place with inhabitants amongst many other wonders.
The project provided room for analysis of the moon, where samples of rocks were brought back to earth and are now under analysis by geologists and other scientists. Others are in various museums to preserve the historic event. There are already theories to explain for the absence of lunar substances on planet earth.
The Apollo project’s success has spearheaded research and innovations all over. The mastery of the space workability and operations, has opened ways for development of more advanced machines. These machines are prescribed with extremely high precision. From the architectural and engineering knowledge that was in constant application during the Apollo program, there saw a rise of special sciences like robotic science.
Robots work both within the earth and in other current space missions and have been developed to work with minimal maintenance (Hart and Michael 128). Other devices include electronic gadgets like mobile phones, televisions, high resolution cameras which can capture clear pictures in HD. The zooming property of cameras was an idea from the Apollo project.
Medical field hasn’t been left out. For instance, the practice of telemedicine originated from the program (Garshnek, Victoria, Frederick and Burkle 27). While in space, the astronauts need advanced medical healthcare even in the absence of doctors. For the long journeys expected in the 21st century, NASA has invested in research of telemedicine which is in use even to the public. Those in remote locations can still access medical checkup.
This medical approach towards cases of emergency employ telecommunication and information technology. This has become a routine occurrence especially by the US military and governmentagencies in their rescue missions to disaster-stricken regions. Research is still ongoing and this field is very promising. According to Garshnek (1999), telemedicine encompasses all the medical procedures over transmission modalities. Such an application of telemedicine was when the Virgin Islands of the United States were stuck by hurricane. The first teleradiology systems were applied to save the situation in 1990.
Research on a reliable self-sustaining system for long missions has been of great importance (Lauseur et al., 10). The concept is based on regenerative design system. The crafts going for longer missions will require little support from ground operators, thereby prompting the need for self-reliance while in space.
The system can be used to eliminate food shortages in the world. Currently, MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) has conducted research which is still on going on these systems. With such systems in place, the visions to eliminate food shortages can be easily achieved. It also saves on the research funds rather than conducting parallel research projects.
Among other major benefits of the project is its contribution to education. The project allowed for the orbital of the moon by the space crafts which made it possible to send satellites afloat on space. These satellites collect millions of data every micro-second and is transmitted directly to the earth stations. The data is then processed into useful information.
This data has been crucial in military operations, geographical and geospatial studies where topographical pictures are analyzed. Calamities such as earthquakes and hurricanes are easily analyzed as they occur. This allows for preparations for these catastrophic phenomenon, thereby minimizing casualties.
Although the activities The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been through political regulations, preparations are still on for a major mission. The most recent decision by the senate on the budget deducted about $300 million dollars from the project. NASA has set up strategies to plan for the next major tour in the space. There is research on various issues ongoing to make the exploration to other space bodies such as Mars safe.
The Apollo program, from a general perspective was a success and needs support. The struggle, determination and methodology used by the then scientist during that age is astounding. The project whose initial object was to restore the honor of the US, has proved to be extremely beneficial to the society. The technological advancements have been made possible and catalyzed by the project due to the great expertise which was required to make the exploration as safe as possible.
However, the cost of maintaining NASA is very expensive. Funding the ISS for the past 20 years has prompted the decision to commercialize its activities. This was expected by 2024, however the research operations will not be over by then. The equipment too is aging and therefore cannot be extended beyond 2028. This creates the necessity for NASA to find means of safe deorbiting of the ISS.