Every year, on 7 July, you won´t see any magpies in China.
At least, that´s what one of China´s popular legend says.
Well, on that day, magpies fly away to form a bridge for Niu Lhang and Zhi Nu, two lovers forever separated by the silver river (the Milky Way galaxy).
You see, Niu Lang was a herder and Zhi Nu a fairy living in the sky.
Long ago, they fell in love. Zhi Nu came down from the sky to marry him. They had children and lived happily…until the gods above discovered them.
They forbade their love and forced Zhi Nu to go back to live in the sky.
But, the magpies took pity on the two lovers.
So, every year, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, the magpies form a bridge for them, so the lovers can reunite for just one day.
Chinese call the ‘magpie bridge’ Queqiao.
Queqiao is also the name China aptly chose for the satellite they launched into space yesterday.
They are hoping that Queqiao will form a communication bridge between China and a place where no human has ever gone before: the far side of the moon.
You see, China is also planning Chang’e-4, a lunar expedition mission for later this year. The objective of the mission is to be the first spacecraft to land of the far side of the moon.
But, there is a problem…
From earth, we always see the same face of the moon, we never see the far or ‘dark side’ of the moon. So, once China lands a spacecraft there, they won´t be able to communicate with earth.
That´s where Queqiao comes in.
The relay satellite will be serving as a lunar communication station between the spacecraft and our planet.
This is the latest news on the Chinese lunar plans…and the race to space exploration.
There is a bit of a space race going on between China and the US.
While the US has broken ground in space exploration, China is looking to catch up.
China wants to become a major space powerhouse by 2030. They are looking to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, planning a ‘Mars Village’ and even looking to put people on the moon before the end of the 2030s.
And, governments have a big incentive to keep on pumping money into space exploration: defence.
Space is becoming an extension of each country’s infrastructure.
Satellites are important for providing communications and GPS capabilities.
An attack on satellites could cripple a country, that´s why protecting them is crucial.
But, it is not only governments racing into space…private companies are also diving into it.
Queqiao´s blast-off wasn´t the only Chinese launch last week
Chinese private company One Space also sent a rocket into space last weekend…the first Chinese private firm to do so.
And, as more players get into the race, there are a couple of catalysts that could make space exploration increasingly possible in the future.
The first one is brought to you by Jeff Bezos’ — founder of Amazon.com Inc [NASDAQ:AMZN] — Blue Origin.
Space travel is expensive. What I mean is, most space rockets are only used once, that´s why Blue Origin is working on a reusable rocket.
A reusable rocket, as the name well says, can land after a flight and can be reused many times after going through maintenance.
This saves a lot of money.
The second catalyst is satellites. That is, making satellites quicker and smaller to reduce costs.
As Morgan Stanley reported:
‘While reusable rockets will help drive those costs down, so too will the mass-production of satellites and the maturation of satellite technology. Currently, the cost to launch a satellite has declined to about $60 million from $200 million via the use of reusable rockets, with the potential to fall to as low as $5 million. And satellite mass production could decrease that cost from $500 million per satellite to $500,000.’
Morgan Stanley estimates that the space industry is currently worth about US$350 billion today and it could triple to US$1.1 trillion, by 2040.
Which sectors will be the big profit makers from space exploration?
Well for one, tourism stands to gain big as private companies look at giving people the experience of travelling into space.
Another big winner will be the internet and communication industry.
And, mining…companies are looking into mining asteroids for natural resources.
As travelling to space becomes cheaper and more accessible, space will provide a new way for investors to increase their wealth.