Humanity seems destined to expand into the Solar System. What exactly that looks like, and how difficult and tumultuous the endeavour might be, is wide open to speculation. But there are some undeniable facts attached to the prospect.
We need materials to build infrastructure, and getting it all into space from Earth is not realistic. (Be quiet, space elevator people.)
Japan’s little spacecraft that could returned to Earth, putting on quite a show over the Australian outback, making a fiery reentry. Hayabusa returned around 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) in the Woomera Prohibited Area of South Australia. In the video you’ll see a little speck of light ahead of the falling debris: that’s the sample return canister with, hopefully, some precious goods aboard – samples from asteroid Itokawa. The canister separated about three hours before reaching Earth, and returned to Earth via parachute. The canister has been recovered, and will be taken to Japan where scientists will open it to find out if there is anything inside.