In the first and second articles in this series, I described how Venus space research got off to a rocky start in the 1960s, as most early missions launched by both the United States and the Soviet Union failed to reach their targets.
Humanity faces a variety of natural disasters on a daily basis. Volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes claim the lives of roughly 60,000 people every year. And a major disaster – such as a supervolcano eruption – could threaten the continued existence of mankind altogether.
NASA is by far the most well-funded, well-developed space agency on the planet. Even as its budget -- relative to total U.S. tax income -- has continually been reduced over the decades since the Apollo era, NASA still receives several times the funding of its largest international competitors.
There are hundreds of satellites, 8,000 tons of junk and more than 500,000 pieces of debris that are tracked as they circle the planet. This orbital debris and the speeds at which it travels increases the potential danger to both manned and unmanned space vehicles due to the increased potential for collision-related damage.