By 2050, the concept of exploring Mars will have been the impetus that drove the world to tackle space exploration. Here, society is filled with goals of establishing permanent habitats on the Moon and Mars, and developing the resources of these and other planetary bodies. The concerted efforts to meet the challenges of space exploration might well bring about a multitude of exploratory developments. By 2050, how will our outer-world function?
Travel Between Earth and Mars
Galileo or Gali-liar? Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) is considered the founder of the modern scientific method. But he wrote about experiments that were so difficult to reproduce that many doubt he actually conducted them.
Payloads to Mars
Reusable flight systems, developed by SpaceX, Boeing, and Orbital ATK, delivering personnel and payloads to the Martian "train" (i.e. Aldrin's cycler ships).
The robotic machinery employs a planetary body’s regolith to build a cover over inflatable domes. This will create inexpensive habitat shells that keep the occupants safe from the debilitating effects of long-term exposure to solar radiation.
Efficient water-recovery techniques on-site to employ simple, large-scale "shake and bake" techniques. These techniques involve the loading of the polar surface material on the Moon or Mars, heating the regolith, and extracting water for drinking, hydroponics, and splitting into oxygen and hydrogen.
Super-efficient solar cells produced in flexible sheets of film, rolled for payload delivery, and unrolled on site. This will deliver two to three more times the output of the best we have today. The rolls of film will interconnect to extend the size of the solar sheets.
Fuel Cells and Clean Energy
Implementation of fuel cells will provide clean energy on site, by burning the hydrogen extracted from the polar water on the Moon or Mars. The invention of efficient energy storage systems will collect the output of solar cells.
Nano-technology is employed in disciplines from medicine to maintenance. Silicon nano-materials target the emerging cancerous cells of astronauts and space researchers created from over-exposure to solar radiation. Similarly, nano-materials delivered in substrate-specific canisters repair structural problems, allowing for the repair to form at the molecular level, thereby preserving the strength and integrity of the original substrate.
Nuclear Power Systems
New generations of long-lived reliable nuclear power systems. These are patterned on the radioisotope power systems that generate electricity from the natural decay of plutonium-238, which is a non-weapons-grade radioisotope, and will enable more extensive space missions. Presently, these on-board power systems capture the heat given off by the isotope’s natural decay, converting it to electricity and providing constant power to the NASA spacecraft in all extremes of environment and around the clock.
Permanent bases have tiered hydroponic gardens, utilizing simple substrate to hold the plants and water-mineral beds to feed the plants, growing fresh, organic food for the inhabitants.
Recycling experiments endeavor to reuse and repurpose organic and inorganic waste to reduce the payloads from Earth that are necessary to supply the habitats.
Private enterprises, such as Deep Space Industries (DSI), pursue opportunities to mine the planetary bodies to recover water for the liquid itself, producing oxygen and hydrogen, and mining ores. Examples of the valuable minerals include FeTiO3 and TiO2, which contain the precious element titanium.
Welcome to Space!
Space tourism develops in tandem with research and other commercial ventures. Transporting wealthy clients and VIPs to habitats on the Moon, and eventually to Mars, generates income for both the shuttle vehicle operators and the habitat owners.
Retrieval of Resources
Private enterprise supports the development of the survey craft to test asteroids for potential retrieval of mineral resources. The future goal is to set up ore-recovery stations and deliver the refined material—not to Earth, but to construction locations on planetary bodies or space stations.
Cooperation in Space
International agreements are signed between multiple space agencies, with the intention of sharing costs, technology, trained personnel and payload opportunities. They will also work together on the building of permanent bases on the Moon, on the moons of Mars, and on the planet itself.
The International Space Treaty
An international treaty is adopted. This will govern activities and define the rights of companies and individuals to obtain and retain the resources they recover from planetary bodies—without claiming the body itself—following in the footsteps of the recent law adopted by the U.S. Congress.