The Apollo program was a series of space flights with the goal of landing a man on the moon. This was finally accomplished in 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon’s surface. As he did so, he famously said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” While the Apollo 11 space mission is the most well known, it was the Apollo 17 mission that brought home the most reproduced photograph of all time.
We may not like thinking about it, but we are all on a limited journey on this earth. Regardless of what you believe happens after death, you will leave a body behind. While burial beneath the ground and cremation are the most popular ways to go, some people are literally and metaphorically thinking outside the box. One company will have your remains turned into a diamond. For between $5,000 and $22,000, they will take the carbon from your ashes and compress it under high heat and pressure in a machine. After three weeks, a diamond will be created. Family members will sometimes have these diamonds turned into rings and wear them. One Swiss company churns out 800 to 900 of these human diamonds a year.
Our Milky Way Galaxy may be home to 2 billion planets that have the right conditions to support life. These planets have the correct temperature for liquid water. While no one knows what alien life would look like, if it is anything like life on earth, it would need water to survive. The possibility of liquid water depends on a planet’s distance from the nearest star. Too close and water evaporates; too far away and water freezes. Scientists have also looked at the effects of clouds on planet temperature. This has increased the estimate of habitable planets to 2 billion. This is only the number of habitable planets in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is just one of an estimated 100 to 200 billion galaxies in the universe.
International tourism analysts say that 2020 will be a lost year. With a projected $2.2 trillion lost and 100 million jobs wiped out, many hotels, airlines, and restaurants are in survival mode. Tourism-related businesses are trying to stay afloat and weather the storm, hoping for a vaccine to turn things around in 2021.
In 1948, 13 years before a human had ever even been to space, James Mangan did something audacious. He tried to create a new nation – a nation in space! The Nation of Celestial Space may have started as a publicity stunt, but Mangan made sure it became more than that. He created coins, gave deeds of space to friends, and fought for his nation to be recognized by the UN. He even raised a fuss about its borders. According to him, satellites were trespassing. Mangan’s space nation was never recognized, but his ideas live on in a new space nation called Asgardia.
A company called Planetary Resources wants to mine asteroids that are close to Earth for water and precious metals. While Planetary Resources is looking at near-Earth asteroids, NASA has its eye on a bigger prize. The space agency is planning on sending a probe in 2023 to a massive asteroid circling Jupiter that is made almost entirely of iron and nickel. The calculated worth of the asteroid is 10 quintillion dollars! That’s a one followed by 19 zeros and doesn’t include the gold, copper, and platinum to be found there as well.
Khalid al-Assad lost his life protecting the history and culture of his country. This 83-year-old scholar was retired, but still an active expert at the museum that he used to run in Palmyra, Syria. On July 13th, 2016, ISIS demanded he tell them where all the cultural treasures were hidden. Fearing that ISIS would destroy, steal or sell them, al-Assad refused to help them. A month later he was dead. An acquaintance, Abu Ahmad, said, “He knew they would kill him, but he said, ‘I’m not going to leave the city. I’m staying.’”
Base jumpers are daredevils who jump from high buildings, bridges and mountains with parachutes. Felix Baumgartner wasn’t just a base jumper, he was a space jumper. He jumped from a balloon that reached 36 km up in the sky at the edge of space. Felix is your prototypical daredevil, a person who takes risks without any regard for their own safety. He is known as Felix the fearless, but he was so overcome with fear before his space jump that he fled the country.