I can never wrap my head around how large the universe is and how we are looking back in time while looking at the stars. The speed of light is 299,792,458 m/s or 671,000,000 mph. Since light travels so quickly, we don’t experience delays in everyday life. In comparison, the speed of sound is 343 m/s or 767mph. Think of the delay that happens between lightning and thunder. If a storm is far away, there will be a greater gap between the lightweight and the thunder we hear. If a storm is close, there is a small or even nonexistent gap. However, the universe is so huge that we are viewing what some stars looked like millions of years ago. A light-year is the distance light can travel in a year which is roughly equivalent to 6 trillion miles. Icarus (pictured below), the farthest individual star that was ever visible, is 9 billion light-years away from earth, which means when someone views the star, they are looking at how Icarus looked 9 billion years ago.
Funny enough, when I was 7 years old I was completely obsessed with space. For Christmas I got a real telescope, glow in the dark stars for my bedroom, and a model of the solar system. I always loved fairytales and made-up stories as a kid because they were so fascinating and hard to wrap my head around. I think this is why I loved space so much. It looks and sounds like it isn’t real; but it is. Looking at photos I could never fathom how something like that can exist at the same time I do. I would take pictures of the moon through my telescope and fall asleep looking at the sticky stars on my ceiling every night. Learning about space gave me this feeling that I knew a secret about the universe that was endless. It made me feel like I was part of something so much bigger than myself which I loved the idea of. 11 years later I still can’t wrap my head around it and I haven’t even thought about it in awhile. It’s tiring to ponder something that I will never truly understand. However, reading this chapter brought back some of my fascination and gave me that same feeling as when I was a kid. The photo I included is from a night where we had a blood moon and an eclipse simultaneously I believe in 2015. I took this photo through my telescope as me and my family stood outside for hours taking turns looking through. Looking at it today gives me that same feeling I felt so many years ago.
I remember seeing in the news a few weeks ago an article about the potential for day trips to space in Japan. While at first, I was skeptical, the concept of being able to travel up to space in a day may not be as far out of reach as we may think in the future. In Japan, architects and researchers have been developing ideas and plans for “spaceports.” The spaceport rises from an island that floats in Tokyo Bay, designed to launch tourists on a day trip into space. There are hopes that more spaceports will be developed across many cities.
Unlike the usual rockets and spacecraft that we often associate with space travel, tourists will be able to travel to space in aircraft that travel horizontally and are more similar to planes. While these have not yet been developed, many companies have developed horizontal-launch spacecraft that are being tested for effectiveness and safety. The hope is that the spacecraft will travel 50 miles above the Earth and the duration of the trip will be about two hours.
Although this type of space travel may be decades off, the idea of businesses considering and researching this idea is fascinating. I thought it was interesting how the technology that we have today and that is constantly growing is becoming so advanced that we can even consider a possibility like this.