FUTURE OF SPACE TRAVEL

Course Description:
 
This course introduces students to the history and near future of space travel. Students will explore the possibilities of moon bases, Mars colonies, and visiting the outer planets in our solar system and their moons. Students will also discuss important ethical and legal issues around space exploration, such as asteroid mining and war in space. The course gives an expansive view of the technologies, science, and theories that will make far-fetched dreams into realities during the student's lifetime.

Module 1: Intro to Space Travel

This module looks at the fascinating history of space travel identifying its origins, prominent figures, key innovations, and technological advances. Students will look at how politics impacted space travel between countries and within countries while reviewing successes and challenges of the space program. The module will also preview exciting topics that will be covered throughout the course on the possibilities of space travel during the students’ lifetime.

Module 2: Apollo and Shuttles

In this module, students will learn about key moments in the history of space travel and exploration. The module will focus on specific eras and projects to see what they achieved and the kinds of obstacles they faced. Along the way, the module will explore some of the astronauts who tasted victory and learn the names of those who paid the ultimate price while trying to expand humankind’s understanding of the galaxy.

Module 3: International Space Station and Satellites

In this module, students will look at the history of space stations before the ISS, discover the political context surrounding its creation, learn about the day in the life of an ISS crew member, and then switch gears to look at satellites, what technological impact they have had and how they have changed the military.

Module 4: Moon Base

This module will look at the history of the Moon, how it was formed in relation to the Earth and how its gravity influences our planet. Then, the module will look at the possibility of building a base on the Lunar surface and think about the advantages and the disadvantages of that idea. From scientific to commercial benefits, tourism opportunities and a stepping stone to explore the rest of the universe, the Moon is filled with possibilities. But it’s not that simple. Is humanity ready to settle on other celestial bodies? Has it learned from the lessons of life on Earth? Can countries and commercial organizations get along and cooperate to make space exploration beneficial for everyone? Those are some of the questions students will explore in this module.

Module 5: Mars Colony

In this module, students will look at the history of Mars, how it was formed, and how its position in our solar system have contributed to it becoming the Red Planet. We’ll see current theories about the possibility of life on Mars in the past and its ability to sustain life now, which is a crucial piece of the puzzle for those who want to colonize it. As you can imagine, it won’t be easy. Students will have a chance to examine the many requirements to successfully colonize Mars. From transportation to supplies and medical aid, and what humans would have to endure if they set foot on what appears to be a very hostile environment based on what we know so far. Finally, the module will look at the plans for a future Mars colony being drawn up by many countries and commercial companies like SpaceX.

Module 6: Asteroid Mining

This module discusses the concept of asteroid mining, its economic benefits, and perceived cost.  To follow, students will identify leaders in the asteroid mining thought industry, learn how asteroid mining will be done, and identify both technical and legal barriers to its inception.

Module 7: Solar System Exploration

This module ventures out beyond our near neighbors, the moon and Mars. We will consider other planets and their moons. Would Venus ever be suitable for human exploration or habitation? Do the moons of Jupiter or Saturn contain water and would they ever support human colonies? Could these be launching points for deep space and interstellar travel? This module will also discuss the increasing difficulties and logistical challenges of expanding our reach further away from the comfort of planet Earth.

Module 8: Robots and War in Space

The opening up of the new frontier of space for exploration and discoveries is certainly an exciting development in the progress of humankind. But as with most things, there are risks and threats. Increasingly, many countries around the world see space as a new battleground for technical supremacy and control. This module will explore the many questions around the possibilities of war in space. We will also look into how robots will be used, for both exploration and fighting.

Module 9: Spacecraft Technology

Since the first spacecraft, the V2 launched by Germany in 1944, humankind has continued to hurdle objects beyond earth’s atmosphere. This has included satellites, animals, robots, and even some legos. But there is a giant leap in difficult when we talk about humans. Getting fragile human beings up to space, to survive while they are up there, and back safely is not an easy feat. In this module we will learn some basic rocket science. Students will learn about spacecraft technologies and how they work together to help humans survive at tremendous speeds, extreme temperatures, and serious radiation. We will also preview what is on the horizon of spacecraft design that will allow us to go farther and farther from our home planet.

Module 10: Interstellar Travel

The start in the night sky sometimes look so close you can almost reach out and grab them. But with today’s technology and speed limits, it would take hundreds or thousands of human lifetimes to reach even the closest star. But that has not stopped humankind from dreaming, inventing, and writing about the possibilities of interstellar travel. Students will learn need-to-know terms such as astronomical units, light speed, exoplanet, propulsion, and g-force. Then it will describe theories of achieving interstellar travel, including the feasibility of an interstellar mission. This module will explore the limits of the galaxy and universe; the very edges of technology, physics, and science.

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