Space Exploration Growth in 2023
Advances in space exploration have been a goal for decades for several nations and commercial businesses. As technology has developed in recent years, it’s looking like breakthroughs are coming very soon. Governments and businesses around the world are funding major programs that could lead to major shifts in the perception of what’s possible in the world of space exploration. The year 2023 could be a year that is seen as the starting point of a very new future for space travel.
Technology Growth & Exploration
The development of space exploration technology has developed significantly in recent years and 2023 is looking to be a breakout year for the industry. Fully reusable rockets, exploitation of space resources, moon landings, and commercial travel to the edge of space are all in the works.
Fully Reusable Rockets
Reusability is a major goal for many space exploration companies in 2023. When rockets can be used multiple times for launches, companies can save money on the construction of new ones. The savings can be applied to other areas of their space exploration projects, such as strengthening current rockets, performing research, and developing new technologies.
China has prioritized rocket reusability, developing the Long March 9 rocket which can lift up to 140 metric tons to Lower Earth Orbit (LEO). US-based SpaceX also has a series of reusable rockets in the works. Their SpaceX Starship will be used for carrying out a variety of tests and lifting up to 100 metric tons to LEO. Their Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy have already delivered payloads to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020.
Reusable rockets make it possible to perform many more launches that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Space X plans to perform 100 launches in 2023. Relativity Space plans to launch its reusable, 3D-printed rocket, the Terran1 in mid-2023. Blue Origin also has a reusable rocket in the works, named New Glenn.
Exploiting Space Resources
Recent studies and explorations have shown the valuable resources that space may hold for humanity. This year looks to be a big year for space resource discovery and exploitation.
NASA has plans to explore the asteroid 16 Psyche beginning in October of this year. This asteroid has incredible potential for valuable resources such as iron ore, nickel, and gold. Some estimates by scientists value the entire asteroid at $10 quintillion.
Countless missions to the moon are also being planned. Nations such as the US, China, India, and Japan have plans for reaching the moon and studying the resources of the moon with the potential to deliver them back to Earth for use.
Military & Defense
Militaries around the world are also planning to develop their space forces in the coming year. The US-led Anti-Satellite ban (ASAT) is currently being discussed by the United Nations. The resolution is not yet binding but could change the way nations run space tests and create bases.
Nations such as the US, China, Russia, India, and Japan all have plans to develop defense strategies based on their space exploration abilities. Governments and private commercial businesses will be involved, including companies like SpaceX. Concerns over access to areas of LEO and the space between Earth and the moon will be discussed and rules will need to be implemented for allowing the world access to space.
The US spent a record amount of money on the development of the Space Force in 2022. Over $100 billion was spent on defense development and planning, 9% higher than the year before.
Governments around the world aren’t the only ones seeking to make their mark in space. Commercial businesses are also planning to find ways to utilize the ability to reach space to create new revenue streams. For years, many have talked about the commercial delivery of goods to the ISS, the moon, and beyond. Plans for commercial space travel and vacations are inching closer to reality. The year 2023 is looking to be a year of innovation in these areas.
There are plans in place for a crew of four private citizens to fly to the highest Earth orbit by a crewed spacecraft. The mission is named Polaris Dawn and will send a Drago spacecraft from SpaceX as early as March of 2023. The mission will be commanded by Shift4 founder Jared Isaacman. The crew will go to the edge of space to conduct research, raise money for charity, and perform the first commercial spacewalk utilizing spacesuits designed by SpaceX.
This mission is one of a larger collection of the Polaris Program which plans to perform more missions over the coming years. One goal of the program is to potentially repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Launched in 1990, the telescope has not been repaired since damage occurred in 2009. The program may also be able to push the telescope to a higher orbit for improved transmission of sharper imagery.
Commercial Moon Landings
The Japanese space mission Hakuta R launched in December to explore the moon for useful resources. The commercial business ispace is the first company to send a rocket to the moon and has garnered a deal with the Japanese government to explore the moon’s resources and keep what they find. Japan and India are also collaborating on the Chandrayan 3 mission to explore the far side of the moon for resources.
The US also has plans for moon resource exploration. Astrobotic will launch their Peregrine lunar lander in September of 2023, delivering 11 payloads to a large crater on the moon’s surface. Commercial business Intuitive Machines will deliver 5 payloads to a dark spot on the moon and send NASA’s PRIME-1 drill to the surface. Masten Space Systems also plans to send 8 payloads to the lunar South Pole.
The development of space travel in 2023 will make a huge impact on what we can do in the future. Look to these upcoming missions as a signpost to what the future may bring for governments, businesses, and citizens who want to go to space in the coming decades.
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