Most who grew up during the days of the space race were promised a future with moon colonies, orbital space stations, and routine travel to the stars. But that future has always been elusive, since it has long depended upon shifting Congressional priorities and timid funding — currently, NASA’s budget is about $21 billion, or 0.49% of the federal budget.
In recent years, however, private industry has started to take the lead in humankind’s march into space.
Unfortunately, some innovative companies have recently crashed back to earth. Two different startups hoping to become pioneers in the asteroid mining industry — Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries — recently pivoted away from their ambitious space mining plans.
But for every failure, there are a handful of innovators still moving forward, from SpaceX, which recently unveiled its latest prototype of Starship, a rocket system design to populate Mars, to Axiom and its plans to deploy a commercial space station.
Here are the 11 most exciting innovations shaping the future of spaceflight today.