There are eight things considered a necessity in space travel and while I am supremely confident that we are there or en route, NASA is taking action on one of them in particulal to make water and to Mars to make oxygen.
The eight requirements when considering space travel are:
1)some sort of magnetic shielding (NASA is working a Magnetosphere called the ‘bubble’ that works much the way Jupiter’s Magnetosphere or Earth’s works. Protection from radiation and meteors – cool right?
2) Able to obtain food in space (NASA is continuing work on the food printer has additional planned missions to verify plant growth in space hydroponically by placing a greenhouse of sorts on the moon in 2015.)
3) Some sort of Propulsion device (Fusion is a key project at MIT as well as France is constructing a nuclear fusion plant at present …. Also Deuterium is very present on Mars and is used in Fusion plants.)
4) Insanely smart robots (Have you met Valkyrie - A NASA robot with a chief goal of going to Mars? How about Big Dog, Google’s recent winner in the DARPA Robotic Challenge. )
5) WARP DRIVE (NASA is also working on this as a ‘loophole’ in Einstein’s field equations allows not for FTL, but taking a short-cut through space so that you get from point A to point B but still haven’t broken any speed limits.)
6) Cheap access to space. And by cheap access, I mean cheap launches. Currently costs run anywhere from several hundred thousand to $800,000. Colonizing the moon would allow for simpler and less expensive launches, all a three day trip from Earth!
AND 7) and 8) refer to both water and Oxygen. Humans are funny that way, they need both to survive. As far as oxygen think SiO2 – used in emergency breathers here on Earth by subterranean miners. There are many occurrences of compounds that contain oxygen in space and many ways to extract that from chemical to temperature….As to water, that exists both frozen on the Moon (at least 330 million tons) and the soil is FeTiO4 so the addition of H will give one FeTi + H2O. Or the recycling on the ISS. NASA has this down, but this plan is awesome.
I give you Resource Prospector, a new mission brought to you by NASA. The Moon mission will be the US space agency's first attempt to demonstrate in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) beyond Earth. This mission includes a rover that acts a scout (and has the required instruments not just a divining rod!) This scount would not necessarily be looking for H2O, but telltale signs of hydrogen, drill out the samples, heat them, and scan for water vapor and other volatiles.
Up next, a second experiment due to fly aboard NASA’s next rover to Mars which launches in 2020. This device pulls carbon dioxide from the planet’s atmosphere, filters out the dust and other particles, and then prepares the gas for chemical processing into oxygen.
-Now there are lists that appear in various magazines or on the internet that clam 10 things are necessary for interstellar travel. And they do make sense. That would make 9) Suspended Animation for long trips…heard of Glassy Water? Scientist are working on just this and making great strides! AND 10) some sort of Substitute for Gravity. Well NASA does have several experiments ongoing that are reviewing centrifuge or other sorts of options. Actually I have an idea that might work but it is in Sanacion III, so I’m going to hold off for now!
Looking at the above, I think we’re ready for space and the timeline NASA has at the moment seems to be right in line getting it done. Do they need more people to go to the moon? I'm packed-let's go!