Space exploration has come a long way since the first primitive satellites—we’ve visited all the canonical planets, and laid the groundwork for the next stage of discovery and colonization. A new, more lasting space race is about to begin. Here’s the second part of our 100-year forecast of future space exploration.
Thanks to New Horizons, we’ve completed the preliminary reconnaissance of the Solar System. Now it’s time to send man across our cosmic neighborhood. Here’s what that mission might look like in a few decades.
We may soon take an elevator to get to space.
Very few people have seen this view.
Fusion rockets, Bussard ramjets, SK drives, world ships carrying thousands of colonists and entire ecosystems—these are just a few of the ideas to get us to the stars. In this handy guide, we’ve assembled some of the best proposals for interstellar travel, ranging in likelihood from the near-term achievable to the far-out implausible.
A decade ago, NASA launched what would become its fastest interplanetary probe: the New Horizons mission to explore little Pluto in the lonely, frigid outer marches of the Solar System. Its incredible images of the whilom Ninth Planet are already the stuff of NASA legend—and its journey of discovery is only just beginning.
Next stop...never. This train just keeps on moving.
It takes off from a runway, reaches hypersonic speeds, then rockets into orbit.
If you could travel at 99.9% the speed of light, how long would it take you to get to the Moon? Mars? The nearest star? The edge of the universe? Hop aboard our interstellar starship and find out!
Before New Horizons, our best photo of Pluto was a pixelated blob. Nine years and three billion miles later, NASA’s most adventurous space probe finally revealed the dwarf planet to the world.
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