It All Started With Star Stuff 🚀

An introduction to space exploration and technology.

Five… Four… Three… Two… One…

Zero…

And lift off!

Apollo 11 — July 16, 1969 (Credit: NASA)

The space race to get to the Moon kicked off a future with space exploration and brought awe to humans around the world.

Humans are curious beings. We want to understand the unknown and something many of us are curious about is space a.k.a. the final frontier. 😉

Many of us grew up fascinated by the night sky and wondered what might lie beyond it.

The idea of exploring the unknown and landing on the moon brought back that child-like wonder.

And it all began with a moonshot. 🚀

When US President John F. Kennedy said “We choose to go to the moon” in his 1962 speech at Rice University, he set a moonshot goal for America and the world.

A moonshot goal is one that is not yet attainable. It is a goal 10x of what is currently possible.

Setting attainable goals is great for making you work hard, but moonshot goals help shift people’s thinking and create what was thought not to be possible before. 😎

The greatest disruptions in history came from moonshot goals like going to the moon.

Landing on the moon in 1969 proved that it was possible to achieve seemingly impossible feats and showed the amazing potential of humans can achieve when we collaborate for something bigger than ourselves.

You wouldn’t be reading this without space exploration.

The technologies we created for space exploration, the knowledge we gained from them, and the research in space brought about many of the innovations that impact our daily lives.

You probably would not be reading this without space exploration because the first-ever portable computer was made from an adaptation of the GRiD Compass, which was created for space travel. 🤯

Ever gotten a CAT scan or taken a picture with a phone camera?

Wearing some Nike trainers right now?

Check out these space kicks from Nike 😍(Credit: Nike)

Thank space exploration for those inventions too. 👏

Other amazing technologies that probably wouldn’t be possible today without space travel:

  • LEDs
  • Water purification systems
  • Artificial limbs
  • Much more!

💡Meta takeaway: working on moonshot projects (like going to the Moon) lead to knowledge, research, & technologies that lead to future innovations.

The rise and fall of the space shuttle program.

In 1981 after going to the Moon, NASA launched the Space Shuttle program which ran routine transportation for Earth-to-orbit astronaut crew until 2011.

At the beginning of this program, space shuttles brought the promise of safe travel to orbit for astronauts.

Columbia space shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

The first-ever space shuttle to be launched in this program was Columbia.

Space shuttles were exciting because they were the first-ever reusable spacecraft. 😎

Throughout the program, space shuttles flew 135 missions carrying astronauts and cargo to the ISS (International Space Station) and deploying satellites.

The Space Shuttle program came to an end after several shuttle accidents, including the 2003 Columbia disaster where Columbia broke up upon return to Earth killing seven astronauts.

As a result of these disasters and lack of funding in the program, NASA suspended the program and space exploration grew stagnant.

SpaceX started the Space Race 2.0.

(Credit: Fine Art America)

In 2010, a moonshot thinker had a goal of colonizing Mars. 🚀

“I want to die on Mars. Just not on impact.” — Elon Musk

Elon Musk had a crazy idea and relentlessly pursued it.

At SpaceX (Elon Musk’s commercial space company), they created reusable rocket boosters for the first time ever! 🎉

SpaceX brought back the wonder + excitement of space exploration and disrupted the space industry forever.

Now we’ve entered the Space Age 2.O, a time where our moonshot is to get to the red planet.

Moonshot ➡️ Mars-shot

The space exploration moonshot of this century is a mars-shot: a vision of becoming a multi-planetary species and colonizing other planets.

(Credit: SpaceX)

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great — and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than in the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” — Elon Musk, SpaceX 🧠

We have to become a spacefaring civilization to move into the future and discover the technologies of the future that will disrupt the way we live life.

Our current space industry is fueled by this mission to be among the stars and thinks big. 🚀

Who knows?

One day someone may be reading this article from Mars, looking back at the time it was our moonshot. (If that’s you, hi from the past. I hope life on Mars is fun! 👋)

Companies To Watch In Space Tech 👀

With a new space age and moonshot, new technologies are needed to help us colonize the red planet. Here are five cool companies to watch, who are working on technologies that can help us get there:

The next generation of robots?

Apptronik is working on that. 😉

Their approach is to create human-centered robots. Robots for humans that can live and work alongside us to improve our quality of life.

Think of C3PO sidekicks on Mars. 🤖

It gets cooler: Apptronik has worked alongside NASA in the past on the Valkyrie humanoid robot and is now working on humanoid robots that can help martian explorers colonize Mars in the future.

The Valkyrie robot showing off its dance moves. 😎(Credit: NASA)

The pioneer of Space Age 2.0! 🚀

Started by visionary Elon Musk.

SpaceX is currently working on three dope projects towards a mission of making life multi-planetary:

  • A private lunar mission 🌑 — In 2023, SpaceX is launching the first-ever private passenger flight around the Moon.
  • A Mars mission — It’s SpaceX’s aspiration to send its first cargo mission to Mars in 2020!
  • Earth to Earth transportation — SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy will make it possible for long-distance travel on Earth to be done in 30 minutes or less.
SpaceX Starship Earth to Earth transportation.

In working on these projects, SpaceX is changing the space game and propelling humans into a future with Mars in it. 🙌

AI SpaceFactory is working on the houses of the future. 🏡

They work on advanced construction for Earth + Space.

Their approach is using 3D-printers to print space habitats like the one below:

(Credit: AI SpaceFactory)

The Marsha space habitat (above) uses a recyclable biopolymer composite, which is five times stronger than concrete. ♻️

One day we may be living in the Marsha habitat!

Sustainability in Earth and in space?

Yes, please!

Cemvita Factory is working on just that with its CO2 utilization platform that mimics photosynthesis to produce nutrients and pharmaceutics for deep space exploration using CO2.

They are also creating industrial chemicals and polymers for energy sustainability. 😎

The way this works is their CO2 utilization platform combines electrochemical engineering and synthetic biology to ⬇️ energy intake and ⬆️ the efficiency of CO2 conversion.

The platform mimics photosynthesis to simultaneously uptake water, solar energy, and CO2 to create useful products.

If that’s not cool enough, Cemvita Factory is also working on CO2 conversion microorganisms.

CO2 conversion microorganisms (Credit: Cemvita Factory).

These technologies will be highly useful in maintaining sustainability and life in deep space exploration. 🌎

These are the five main things you need to achieve moonshot goals:

  1. Passion — Creating moonshots is not an easy task, so having a passion for the project is key! If you aren’t passionate about it, you won’t be willing to put in the work to make it happen.
  2. Creativity — Creativity is important in figuring out how to reach moonshot goals and for thinking 10x.
  3. Storytelling skills 📚— The art of storytelling is a skill that when used right can be used as a tool to share visions of not-yet-possible goals. It can be used to captivate people, as you work towards your moonshot goal.
  4. The ability to figure stuff out — Moonshot goals are not yet achievable, so the ability to figure things out is crucial and is a skill/mindset that needs to be trained to make moonshots achievable. There’s no instruction manual on how to make your moonshot a reality, so you need to figure it out.
  5. Relentlessness 💪 — You need to be relentless when chasing moonshot goals because not everyone is going to believe in your goal and there will be many roadblocks to overcome when making it a reality.

🔑 Takeaways

  • Space exploration helps fuel human curiosity and brings us innovative technologies + research.
  • Moonshots are ideas that are unattainable and that are 10x more than what currently is.
  • The space-age started with the moonshot to go to the moon.
  • The space shuttle program was from 1981–2011 and launched the first-ever reusable spacecraft.
  • The space-age 2.0 began in 2010 with SpaceX and Elon Musk’s vision of becoming a multi-planetary species.
  • Cool companies to check out in space tech: Apptronik, SpaceX, AI SpaceFactory, Cemvita Factory.
  • Five main things you need to achieve moonshot goals: passion, creativity, storytelling, the ability to figure stuff out, and relentlessness.

Shooting for the stars. 🚀

Since the moon landing in 1969, space exploration has been evolving and brought miraculous innovations that shape our lives every day.

Going to the moon was our moonshot.

Now going to Mars is our moonshot.

Whatever the moonshot is, humanity needs to keep thinking bigger and challenging what’s possible, so we can set ourselves on a trajectory filled with continuous innovation. 🙌

And hopefully, in our lifetimes become a multi-planetary species.

Space exploration will continue to be fueled by human curiosity and will help foster collaboration of many minds to make what we thought to be impossible a reality. 🌎

Because as Carl Sagan suggested, space is in our DNA:

(Credit: Smithsonian Magazine).

“We’re all made of star stuff.” — Carl Sagan 🚀

Hey! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I hope you learned something about space exploration and moonshot thinking. 😀

👋I’m Adara. A sixteen-year-old genetics researcher, space tech enthusiast, writer, and aspiring astronaut. I have a huge passion for the environment and space, terrestrial, & marine exploration. 🌎

To follow along on my journey to the stars you can connect with me on Twitter and Linkedin. Also, be sure to follow my Medium blog for more articles on space, genetics, and other technologies.

Until next time,

✌️Dara

18 y/o researching closed-loop systems for earth + space.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store