Historic mission paves way for space tourism

Out of this world: Elon Musk dreams of growing a rose on Mars. © SpaceX

Should humans go and live in space? Inventor Elon Musk has just sent a manned, reusable rocket into space. It could make space travel a reality for all – but some would rather stay on Earth.

What’s happening

In a few short minutes, history was made. The astronauts sat strapped into their seats, their visors down, carefully watching display screens. There was a burst of fuel and the sleek Crew Dragon was lifted into the air. Nine minutes later, it had left the atmosphere and was orbiting the Earth.

Find out more

Since the first human went into space in 1961, all exploration has been paid for by governments. When the capsule blasted off on Saturday, though, it became the first privately owned vehicle to take humans to space.

Crew Dragon belongs to SpaceX. The company owned by Elon Musk has been working with Nasa to build a reusable rocket that makes space travel cheaper. Saturday’s launch was the first time it was tested with humans.

The success of the mission opens up opportunities for tourism, as individuals will be able to pay for rides on the rocket. The founder of Tesla has high ambitions for space travel. Musk hopes to populate Mars and has plans to build a city on the red planet using his own star ships.

Should humans go and live in space?

Some say…

We should try! As humans, we are natural explorers. We are curious and creative. We have proven that humans can exist in space, and now is the time to be exploring the possibility of sending more people out to live there. The global population is growing, meaning we are running out of space on Earth. Moving into space is the obvious next step.

Others think…

Let’s stick to Earth. Our planet provides everything we need to live. We can grow food, drink water, and breathe air. We are protected by the atmosphere. We can survive without huge space suits. It is more important to appreciate what we have. Global warming is a major challenge. Instead of trying to escape Earth, we should be trying to protect it.

You Decide

  1. Would you like to test out a brand new rocket?

Activities

  1. Imagine you have gone on holiday to Mars. Write an electronic postcard to send home. Describe what it is like on the planet – your surroundings, your clothes, what you eat, and how the hotel looks.

Some People Say...

“Space tourism will bloom very soon: regular tourist flights, orbital hotels. I foresee an interplanetary cruise ship.”

Buzz Aldrin, astronaut

What do you think?

Word Watch

Visors
A movable part of a helmet that can be pulled down to cover the face.
Crew Dragon
Crew Dragon has a heat shield to protect astronauts when going through Earth’s atmosphere. It also has four parachutes designed to help lower the astronauts gently into the Atlantic Ocean when they return.
Privately owned
The rocket and capsule were built and are owned by a company rather than any government.
Nasa
National Aeronautics and Space Administration is part of the American government responsible for the space programme, as well as space research.
Reusable rocket
Elon Musk hopes one day to reuse a rocket in the same way we reuse planes, which will make space travel much cheaper.
Tesla
A company specialising in electric cars.

Subjects

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.