For decades, countries have been vying for recognition as the winner of the space race — as the country with the most advanced technology in space exploration.
The space race officially started after World War II, when both the United States and the U.S.S.R. obtained Germany’s plans for long-range missile capabilities. The countries chose to take science further to launch rockets and satellites, instead of missiles, into space.
The U.S.S.R. successfully launched a small satellite — known as Sputnik I — and sent a dog into space in 1957, launched a satellite to orbit the moon in 1959 and sent both a male and female cosmonaut into space in 1961 and 1963, respectively. By 1963, the U.S.S.R. had launched a long-duration flight into space for five days. In short, the U.S.S.R. outperformed the U.S. in the early days of the space race.
Then, in 1958, President Eisenhower created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to push space exploration to the forefront in the United States. It was President John F. Kennedy’s dream to see a man walk on the moon by 1970, but it was during President Richard Nixon’s term in office that the Apollo 11 space shuttle landed on the moon.
On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong and his crew claimed for America the distinction of landing a man on the moon first, by leaving behind an American flag. According to popular opinion, the U.S. won that round of the space race.
Today, Russia, the U.S. and 13 other countries work together to maintain the International Space Station. But what about the next space race to other planets, such as Mars? It’s going to take the following three things working together at the right time for a country to win the next space race.
You Need Financial Resources to Win
The Apollo Program cost the United States $25 billion. NASA’s current budget for the 2016 fiscal year is $18.5 billion. Recently, NASA contracted with six companies to research and develop prototypes for deep-space habitats for a future visit to Mars. A $65 million grant covers the goal of visiting the Red Planet by the end of the 2030s.
The companies working in conjunction with NASA include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada Corp., Bigelow Aerospace, NanoRacks and Orbital ATK, Inc. With the ability to fund innovative ideas and hire the best engineers and companies in the country, NASA may be closer to winning the next space race.
You Need Highly Qualified Scientists to Win
Don’t count China out of the space race! The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) is currently working on a hybrid spaceplane they hope will one day allow anyone to fly into space. Their scientists could also consider working on using the technology in conjunction with the Chinese military. This would allow China to weaponize combined-cycle engines for use on a global scale, flying near space at above Mach 5 speed.
It takes not only brilliant minds to invent and engineer spacecraft, rockets and satellites, but also scientists trained in engineering, physical science, life science and/or mathematics. Space science requires highly skilled, detail-oriented engineers to prevent overheating and other critical problems through expertly designed products, like devices with smaller form factors.
NASA provides a general listing of academic fields of study from an accredited college or university for their aerospace technology positions. The following are a few of these fields of study that enable scientists to design, engineer and fly spacecraft, design planetary habitats and operate satellites:
- Engineering fields like aeronautical, aerospace, astronautical, biomedical, ceramic, civil, computer, electrical, industrial, mechanical, nuclear, structural and welding.
- Science fields like astronomy, astrophysics, chemistry, computer science, geology, earth, geophysics, meteorology, oceanography, physics and space science.
You Need the Interest and Support of Your Country to Win
With popular media outlets reporting on the next space race and the newest aerospace innovations, interest in the country’s space exploration programs is growing. The thought of space tourism excites every man and woman that ever dreamt of one day becoming an astronaut.
Although there are projects currently planned to launch privately owned spacecraft to the moon for mining purposes, certain treaties and agreements between countries may hinder that endeavor. However, that doesn’t stop people from dreaming of future commercial spacecraft.
By hiring the best and brightest scientists in the world, using financial resources wisely and gaining support from the citizenry, any country can win the next space race.