Space Travel: Then and Now (Infographic)

For more tahn 50 years, mankind’s quest to reach the stars has never waned. Eric Searleman reports.

aNewDomain.net — News of Google’s flying car prototype hit the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle recently. The world has been waiting patiently for sporty flying vehicles since The Jetsons first aired on TV back in 1962. Not surprisingly, Google’s airborne car has been dubbed the “Jetsons Mobile.”

Thoughts about flying cars and The Jetsons harkens back to the golden age of space exploration which began in 1957 when Russia launched Sputnik 1 into orbit. Back then outer space was the province of nations like Russia, China, and the U.S. We were all competing in a space race to see who would be the first to land on the moon. The clock was ticking.

Arguably, a second golden age of space travel began in 2004 when Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipOne was launched. The private sector was now sophisticated enough to compete with NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency. And this time national pride was not the point. Money was now driving mankind into space.

When Virgin Galactic officially opens for business, it will charge passengers $250,000 for a two-and-a-half hour joyride 60 miles above Earth. The first flight is scheduled to depart next year and more than 600 people have already placed deposits for a ticket.

Similarly, a company called Moon Express wants to get its hands on some space booty. Every asteroid contains billions or maybe even trillions of dollars’ worth of valuable resources, platinum group metals, or gold, or silver,” the company said in a recent interview on PBS.

However things turn out, one thing is clear: Man’s quest to reach beyond this island Earth is insatiable. Rocket ships, luxury cruises, or flying cars, it doesn’t matter: the stars are our destination.

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About the author

Eric Searleman

Over the years, Eric Searleman has been a newspaper reporter, a fiction editor, a comic book artist, and a rock star (confirmation required). Currently he lives in San Francisco.