While there’s something to be said about seeing a giant starship take off, the next era of space exploration needn’t be big, brash and expensive for space exploration. Around Europe there’s a wave of engineers and scientists aiming to miniaturize satellites so that hundreds can be sent into orbit and beyond with minimal cost and effort.
Space exploration power in numbers. For example, scientists have been looking at the idea of using a fleet of CubeSats to intercept asteroids approaching Earth. This way the physical and chemical composition of dozens of space rocks can be studied at once, because we don’t want to miss a thing if we have to send Bruce Willis to blow one up. Similarly, thousands of the tiny spacecraft could be sent out to map the radiation that pervades space, showing future astronauts the spots to avoid if they don’t want superpowers (or more realistically death).
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