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A Private Spacecraft Going to Venus Will Look For Signs of Life In Its Clouds

Image credits: Reuters.

Image credits: Reuters.

Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab, has ambitious plans to launch the first private robotic mission to our superheated planetary neighbour.

The space race since its heyday has seen numerous probes launched by the government, private agencies on Earth to visit celestial bodies in and beyond our galaxy. However, efforts to colonize our neighbouring planets, especially Venus-which has seen close to 40 robotic spacecraft being sent to the brightest object in our sky after the Sun and Moon — is heating up. Ever since the 1961 Soviet-era program began trying to explore Venus, the only spacecraft developed by government agencies have visited the sister planet. However, according to The Vice report, a small US aerospace company is hoping to achieve this by launching a low cost probe by 2023. Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab, has ambitious plans to launch the first private robotic mission to our superheated planetary neighbour.

His company has become very good at launching satellites into orbit over the past decade, however, his dream of taking the next step of an interplanetary mission received a big boost recently after a 2020 study. The research study claimed to the discovery of a chemical associated with microbial life in the planet’s corrosive and sulphuric atmosphere.

“The mission is to path-find and it’s also to show that this can be done," Beck said speaking on Motherboard’s Space Show.

Rocket Lab plans to add to this effort with its unique commercial mission. The company will use its Electron rocket and its Photon satellite to get to Venus. The spacecraft will then send its probe weighing around 37 kilograms and just 30 centimetres in diameter that will rapidly descend through the planet’s atmosphere and pioneer a new form of interplanetary commercial exploration.

Additionally, Beck hopes that the latest space exploration program by his company will be able to shed some light on some relevant burning issues such as how unique could life be in the universe, what molecules should the probe look for, among others.

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first published:May 17, 2021, 19:55 IST