Written by TKS Boston student, Amelia Settembre.

Space… the final frontier.

For years upon years, mankind has stared up at the stars and wondered “what’s next?”

now, we’re closer than ever to an answer. As we prepare to send humans into the vacuum known as ‘space’, there’s much we have to first understand about what’s out there, and what technology we’re developing to work with it.

Overview of Current Space Technologies:

Since space is so vast, we’ve been exploring it for years, and there’s still so much we don’t even understand yet. Despite this, here’s a rundown of the last 50 or so years working with space.

  • We’ve got satellites. These have come a long way since Russia first launched Sputnik in 1957. It lasted three weeks with batteries, then orbited for two more months before crashing back into the earth. These days, satellites can last anywhere from 5–15 years. Now, satellites have both commercial uses and government uses.
  • The International Space Station. By having a place to run tests in a microgravity environment, we have the ability to understand the properties of space and its effects on technology and humans. This has proven quite beneficial to us, seeing as we can use the data to be more successful during missions.
The International Space Station.
  • Humans in space. After sending people up to the ISS and launching them to the moon, scientists are starting to think broader and contemplate how far we can actually send humans. Right now, their bet’s on Mars, but who knows how far we’ll actually get in the future!
  • The Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble telescope has been in space since 1990. Back then, it was the largest payload ever launched into space. Different from a telescope on Earth, Hubble has a much clearer view of deep space, allowing scientists to take better images of galaxies.
  • Most importantly, we have rockets. One of the most invaluable technologies we’ve got, without rockets, we’d have no way to leave the atmosphere. Rockets are fuel-powered devices attached to the spacecraft that accelerate it enough to escape Earth’s gravity and atmosphere.

That’s just a quick overview of what we’re doing, but in order to fully understand the depth of what we’re working with, we still have to understand what’s out there and where we fit into all of it.

What Is Space And What’s In It?

Space. Just the word sounds pretty vast, and to scientists, it equates to a whole lot of unknowns and variables. First of all, let’s start with a run-down of some of the more basic celestial bodies you can locate in space.

  • Planets. These vary drastically from each other, something which we can even see in our own universe. From gas giants to rocky, terrestrial worlds to ice giants, there are many different varieties of planets. The further out you get from our sun (or any star, for that matter), the less dense the planets are. We’re closer to the sun, leaving us on a rocky, terrestrial world. Earth is also considered a “goldilocks planet”, or a planet existing within the habitable zone of a star.
  • Stars. Despite how giant it feels to us, our beloved sun isn’t even close to the size other stars are. It’s a yellow dwarf. However, our galaxy is home to pulsars, red giants, neutron stars, and many more. Black holes, to some extent, are also considered to fall into the category of star, even though very little is still understood about them.