In 1893, when the New York Philharmonic presented the latest work of the Czech composer, Antonín Dvořák, Symphony No.9, also known as "From the New World", the show was met with tremendous acclaim and unrivaled popularity, and its composer's ultimate dream was to see it reach the whole globe. However, the symphony’s reach was beyond Dvořák’s wildest dreams it was actually played on the moon 65 years following his death in 1904, when Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, took a recording of it with him. Thus, the Czech Republic somehow became part of Apollo 11's journey although it waited till 2003 before it joined the other spacefaring nations.
Eighty-two of the world’s space agencies are governmental and international organizations. The space activities of some countries may not surprise you while others, like Bolivia, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Romania and Sri Lanka, certainly do. Although these countries are different in terms of technical and financial capabilities, where 14 of them are capable of launching space shuttles and only the USA, China and Russia are able to send astronauts and land on the moon, we can say that the era when the US and the Soviet Union dominated the outer space is now over.
As a result of the space agencies’ growing activity, in addition to the various uses of satellites, the Earth's orbit has become increasingly congested as more satellites are launched into it annually. For example, 239 satellites were launched in 2014, which is the largest number of satellites launched in one year, and the total number of satellites in the outer space surpassed 4000 to form what’s more like an industrial society around the Earth despite the fact that more than half of the number stopped working. Around 52% of these satellites are used for commercial purposes, while governments own the majority of the rest.
There is no doubt that the world's governments will want to invest in outer space for different purposes, including commercial, military or civil, although in the beginning of the current century, there were some attempts to promote space tourism with the American millionaire Dennis Tito, who paid 20 million dollars in 2001 for a trip outside Earth, and thus he was the first space tourist in history. However, some governments have scientific goals, which aim at discovering the outer space and finding answers for scientific issues that have baffled the world for so long through sending missions for discovery purposes, which are quite costly and require years of hard work... even decades. Nowadays, many projects are under supervision and surveillance, and they send their operators information and photos on daily basis. Some of these include:
NASA’s Juno probe which was launched in 2011 to Mars in order to discover the mechanism in which the giant planet was formed. It began sending photos early September 2016.
NASA’s Dawn probe, which is studying the largest bodies in the asteroid belt. This probe spent 14 months orbiting Vesta, the second largest asteroid, and is now photographing Ceres, the largest of all asteroids.
Rosetta spacecraft launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2004. History will remember it as the spacecraft which held the first probe (Philae probe) to land on a comet’s surface, and that comet was known as Churyumov-Gerasimenko, or "Chury" for short.
The Hayabusa 2 mission was launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in 2014 in order to discover the origins of life on Earth and under what circumstances the planet was formed.
In 2014, a leading, unprecedented breakthrough took place in in the Arab World when the United Arab Emirates announced the establishment of UAE Space Agency, which will work on developing a world-class space sector in the country in order to to achieve national interests. The agency's objectives include:
- Organizing, supporting and developing the space sectors to meet national interests.
- Encouraging, enhancing and developing the use of space sciences and techniques in the country as well as offering advice in this field.
- Creating international partnerships in the space field in order to reinforce the government's role in the space sector.
- Contributing to the diversification of the national economy through a developed national space sector.
- Increasing public awareness of the space industry’s importance as well as preparing qualified cadres to become pioneers in the field of space.
In April 2015, The United Arab Emirates Space Agency and France's Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for future cooperation activities in space, and as the UAE joined the club of spacefaring nations, the government set policies, legislations and regulations which govern how the space sector’s operations in UAE. Moreover, the government will comply with relevant international agreements which will further increase international cooperation in the space field.
Not only did the UAE join spacefaring countries, but is now preparing to become the ninth country to send discovery missions to Mars. This step will see the light through launching the "Hope” spacecraft, which plans on achieving a set of science objectives, which include studying the reasons behind atmospheric erosion and replenishment, as well as clearly understanding the relationship between this atmosphere’s layers and how it is changing, and the daily weather changes throughout the year and their interaction with the planet's terrain in order to depict the causes of liquid water disappearance. Hope is planned to reach Mars in 2021, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of UAE founding, given that it will be launched in 2020 to land on the Red Planet after traveling more than 60 million kilometers in 9 months.
On Earth, a remarkably large number of astronomers, astrophysicists, cosmologists and aeronautical scientists are stationed behind monitors to receive photos and signals from probes and spacecrafts spread across the solar system, which were sent to feed scientists’ curiosity and their insatiable desire to fathom the history of the universe. This knowledge will surely turn into a concrete reality filled with human trips to other planets in quest for an environment similar to Earth to live on in case our planet becomes overpopulated. Those scientists are backed by governments aware of the necessity of taking part in space researches and providing the required technical and financial capabilities to achieve this goal, which is not only a national goal, but a humanitarian one as well.