From the Earth to Jupiter in 400 Days

Does anyone else get excited when they visit the NASA website?

New Horizons Jupiter Fly-by

New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft ever made.  It's currently traveling at 69,200 KM/h (43,000 mph) and will increase to about 83,700 KM/h (52,000 mph) once it accelerates through Jupiter's gravity well.  As of this writing, the probe has been traveling for 395 days toward the gas giant and it will make its closest approach in another nine.

From Earth to Jupiter in just over 400 days … that's amazing.

Ever since I was a young boy I've wanted to do something with the space program.  I know that I could never be an astronaut, as this body isn't really designed for that kind of thrashing.  But being an engineer and solving the complex problems that are presented with sending vehicles into the vacuum of space would be even more exciting.

Like many of the people at NASA, I grew up watching Star Trek and imagining myself cruising through space in a star ship capable of faster-than-light travel.  Seeking out life and new civilizations and studying the cosmos up close.  Of course these dreams are centuries ahead of our time but, with a healthy and active imagination, children can imagine anything.

I do believe that the future of our industrialization relies on space.  What better way to preserve our world than by mining asteroids for raw material and sending the refined ores and minerals back to earth?  Of course this would mean that we would pollute space instead, but how many will argue that the vacuum is already littered with trace elements and debris?  There have already been many case studies and reports written on the benefits of constructing a space elevator to make orbital placements much more cost effective, as well as making it easier to send materials or passengers back down to the earth in an efficient manner.  Could this truly work for us?

If I'm lucky, I will live long enough to see some of the great strides we humans will make into space.  There are lots of problems that need to be solved here on Earth before we can truly venture out to new worlds, but with steady focus and determination, we can grow as a global society and explore the galaxy together.