Wrapping up 2009 and Looking Forward to 2010

by Louis Marascio on December 24, 2009

Burt Rutan with SpaceShipOne. Photo Credit: Virgin Galactic.

The Holiday Season is finally here, beckoning the close of another fruitful year. For me this is always a nice time to take a step back and reflect on the year gone and the year ahead. 2009 truly was a great year—Personally, it brought my family a new joy in our 2nd daughter; a new opportunity and challenge with the formation of my new company, LugIron Software; and finally, it marked 10 years with my lovely and beautiful wife, Tiffany. Amazing!

Worldwide, 2009 was also full of all sorts of terrible and wonderful things. I’ll let the media focus on the bad stuff that happened, and instead I’d like to point out a few truly remarkable and inspirational events that are near and dear to me.

Most people know that I’m a space buff. I’d love to have the opportunity to one day do what Elon Musk has done: become a successful entrepreneur and parlay that success into a great enterprise with the potential to change the world as we know it. Given that, I thought it’d be fitting to summarize three of the years most wonderful achievements and discoveries related to space and our undeniable urge to explore.

Cutting the Cord and Turning a Profit

Getting to space has far too long been an overpriced journey. Now that entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Elon Musk are getting involved the future of space flight is looking bright. I now feel confident in saying that private space exploration is starting to happen and it’s going mainstream. Some highlights:

  • Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan unveiled Virgin Galactic’s spaceship: SpaceShipTwo. This craft, along with its mother ship, Eve, will start taking paying tourists to the edge of space in 2011.
  • Elon Musk and SpaceX are readying the Falcon 9 launch vehicle for its first flight after finding success with Falcon 1. This rocket, along with the Dragon will be able to take cargo and people into space and to the International Space Station.

The Obama administration has shown a willingness to encourage the private sector to get into the space game. I hope they continue their support and begin a long standing tradition of US Government letting loose the reigns of space exploration.

Water is the Juice of Life

Getting to space is one thing, staying there is an entirely different matter. Two major discoveries this year have given us hope that once we master affordable launch vehicles we’ll be able to establish a truly permanent presence in space. Significant amounts of water were found and confirmed on both Mars and the Moon.

An Impact Crater Showing Water Ice on Mars. These two images were taken on October 2008 and January 2009. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

The Mars discovery is notable because not only is the water very pure but it was found in large quantities beyond the polar regions. The water ice on the Moon could make it significantly easier to establish a permanent presence there and it was found by a spacecraft that only cost $79 million. Space exploration doesn’t have to cost billions!

Not Just a Waste of Space

Finally, near the end of the year we were treated to the discovery of GJ 1214 b—the most earth like extra-solar planet discovered to date and it’s within our cosmic neighborhood, just 40 light-years away. I like to think that somewhere Carl Sagan is sailing through the stars smiling as we learn to believe what he always knew: there must be billions of planets and millions of alien species out there, the numbers simply can’t be ignored.

With that I’ll close the my 2009 retrospective with an inspirational viral video that surfaced this year. Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking… singing. Amazing.

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Diving Into 2010

I’m not big on dwelling on the past. I like to reflect, but I’m very much of a charge ahead kind of guy. I won’t make any predictions about the coming year, but I’m sure it will be filled with many challenges and opportunities. For me and my family, I think this will prove to be an important year.

The Marascio 2009 Christmas Card Photo

The Marascio 2009 Christmas Card Photo

I hope your 2009 was as good as mine! Here’s to 2010—let’s get ‘er done.

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