To Infinity and Beyond

This isn’t data related, but a story caught my eye recently, and I suspect quite a few of you will enjoy reading it.

One of the tasks I had to do in university was try and rewrite the landing software for the Mars Viking lander. This was in a software engineering class, and we treated the task like a project, each of us having to work on different parts and integrate them together. We had the same requirements in terms of memory and disk space, though not CPU. We ended up building a small piece of software that worked in the professor’s simulation, but the real joy was going through the process and solving the problem. It was quite a challenge.

In the real world, quite a few people around the globe have been disappointed by the very limited space travel efforts of our species. After sending multiple missions to the moon, not much happened outside Earth orbit for decades. A few recent actions with rockets have gathered attention, and with the interest shown by SpaceX and other companies, it seems that we might be poised for more exciting opportunities in space across the next few decades.

A company’s application to send a commercial mission to the moon has been approved by the US federal government. There are rules that require each country to authorize and supervise space activities, and it’s quite a process in the US. However Moon Express has gotten the approval and they want to send a spacecraft to the moon. And not before the end of the decade, as the US tried to do in the 60s. They’re looking to land on the moon before the end of 2017. That’s just over a year away.

I think the idea of space travel is really cool. Well, it’s cool for others. Not for me. Until there’s artificial gravity, I’m not interested, but I know plenty of others are. Friends in technology dream of going. The DBA in Space contest from Redgate was a hit that many people wanted to win, and get the chance to ride a rocket. My son even wants to study aeronautical engineering in college, hoping to get the chance to work in space someday. Even as launching rockets gets to be commonplace, there are many people that dream of the chance to one day leave the planet.

The explosion in aircraft innovation came when a variety of private companies began to build and fly aircraft. I suspect a similar thing will happen with space flight, especially as the technology advances in computing, 3D printing, and more have become affordable for many private concerns. I expect that the next few years will start to see space tourism become a regular, expensive but affordable option, even as a few private groups will make the first steps toward moon exploration, and someday, colonization.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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One Response to To Infinity and Beyond

  1. Darrell says:

    I wish I was younger- it would be awesome to have the opportunity to visit the moon.

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