How 2 Tech Giants Could Change the Course of Human History

Ed. Note: On the seventh of every month (unless it falls on a weekend), the FREE Tomorrow in Review e-letter begins featuring its “7 Things You Need to Know” series, courtesy of scientific and financial journalist Stephen Petranek. The series is designed to show you the most exciting (and potentially profitable) breakthroughs in the science and technology sector. Today, Stephen brings you the final 2 things on his list. And if you missed the first 5 stories he detailed, you can read all about them here and here. Enjoy…

6. Even Google-ites Want to Live Forever

Google has a hand in just about every sort of transformational tech research you can think of. Last month alone, the company made headlines on drone delivery technology and progress on a quantum computer. Oh, and then there’s that bit about stopping us from aging.

NASA is putting the finishing touches on a manned spacecraft called Orion that could land a person on Mars…

Last year, Google spun off a company called Calico to pursue anti-aging strategies, including a dedication to early-stage research on cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Now Calico has announced a venture with pharma giant AbbVie to build a state-of-the-art research facility in the San Francisco Bay Area. The two companies are serious — they intend to contribute as much as $1.5 billion to the effort.

7. Why NASA Will Be Last to Mars

Just in case you haven’t noticed, NASA is putting the finishing touches on a manned spacecraft called Orion that could land a person on Mars in the near future. Its willpower to do so, or at least its political power to do so, is unlikely to be great enough to get us to Mars in 20 years, but the technology is on the launchpad.

A number of years ago, when NASA finally decided the space shuttle was far too expensive (as much as $1.4 billion per mission) and far too dangerous to keep flying (an astronaut had about a 1 in 5 chance of dying on the job), it commissioned Lockheed Martin to build a replacement.

As if the space shuttle weren’t dated enough, Lockheed and NASA went totally retro and modeled the new Orion spacecraft as what is essentially a much larger version of the Apollo moonship from the 1960s. Boeing did the same thing with its new CST-100 spacecraft to shuttle astronauts to the International Space Station from Earth.

Orion will carry from two to six astronauts at a time, and initially may be used as a backup to ferry astronauts to the space station, a luxury for which the Russians charge us $70 million a trip. SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, recently approved by NASA to ferry astronauts to the space station, also looks very Apollo-like.

What really made the Apollo program work so well was Dr. Wernher von Braun’s brilliant heavy-lift rocket, the Saturn V. But President Richard M. Nixon put an end to that by favoring the idea of the space shuttle over a proposal by von Braun to use the Saturn V to get men to Mars in the mid-1980s.

We haven’t had a rocket like the Saturn V available anywhere in the world for decades, although the Russians made a stab at it. NASA is therefore building a new rocket to get Orion well away from Earth’s gravity. The U.S. space agency seems unable to come up with a reasonable name for it, so the rocket is so far dubbed the Space Launch System. It won’t be ready before 2018, and its cost per pound to orbit, around $8,500, may be so preposterous that it could be seen as obsolete before its first launch.

I’m betting Elon Musk’s SpaceX will get [to Mars] in the mid-2020s.

Orion should fly in December aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket and get into low Earth orbit — without passengers — for some tests. NASA seems in no rush to develop Orion or its new rocket and is talking vaguely about using Orion to visit the moon again as well as an asteroid or two before it even contemplates the system’s true capabilities — getting a person to Mars. NASA’s estimates of when it will send up a manned Mars version of Orion vary from the 2030s to the 2040s. Meanwhile, I’m betting Elon Musk’s SpaceX will get there in the mid-2020s.


Stephen Petranek
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: Right now, there are a handful of people who are directly benefiting from Stephen’s in-depth research, and who could be making huge sums of money because of it. You see, Stephen writes a little newsletter called Breakthrough Technology Alert, which details the most exciting and innovative technologies about to come to market, and which offers its readers the greatest chances to profit because of them. The information divulges is too sensitive to relay here, but if you sign up for the Tomorrow in Review e-letter, for FREE, you’ll be sure to see several opportunities to get in on it for yourself. Don’t miss your chance to discover some of the world’s biggest gains in the tech and energy sectors. Click here now to sign up for Tomorrow in Review for FREE.

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Stephen Petranek

Stephen Petranek’s career of over 40 years in the publishing world is marked by numerous prizes and awards for excellent writing on science, nature, technology, politics, economics and more. He has been editor-in-chief of the Miami Herald’s prestigious Sunday magazine, Tropic, and has covered a wide range of topics for Time Inc.’s Life magazine. His...

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