Ad astra per aspera
On April 12th, 1961 Col. Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (U.S.S.R.) became the first human to travel into outer space, aboard Vostok 1 spacecraft, which only orbited Earth.
After a serious space race between the former U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A., on July 16th, 1969, Neil Alden Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the Moon.
After these two pioneers of spaceflight, many men and women have taken the journey beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Some have returned home safely, some of them have not. However, after 50 years of space travel and with the NASA shuttle program scheduled for mandatory retirement, what is the future of manned missions into space?
Space shuttle Endeavour (OV-105) is scheduled for launch no earlier than April 29th, 2011, on mission STS-134, to deliver the Express Logistics Carrier and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station (ISS). Six mission specialists (including Italian Roberto Vittori) will be on this final programmed trip of the shuttle which has been operational since 1992.
STS-135 is scheduled for launch on June, 2011, carrying 4 NASA astronauts aboard Space shuttle Atlantis (OV-104). Mission’s objective is basically to re-supply the ISS. This should be the final flight of shuttle Atlantis.
NASA has a series of un-manned missions for the next months. United Launch Alliance Atlas V will take off on August 5th, 2011, heading for Jupiter. The Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity Rover is programmed to be launched to the ‘red planet’ no earlier than November 25th, 2011.
That’s it for now. The future of space travel, after 50 years of research and missions is uncertain. A few space agencies are working for missions to the ISS so it is a good bet humans will continue take “regular” trips to the space in the years to come, however, no Moon landings appear to be on the cards for now, no trip to Mars, and definitely not to infinity and beyond!
Manned space flight has not brought disclosed information about extraterrestrial life or suitable environments for humans beyond our planet, nor has it found water or energy sources, nevertheless, we pay tribute to each one of the men and women involved in this adventures, in the search for the stars.
April 12th, 2011.