In focus: The next frontier

A NASA image of sunrise from International Space Station

Fifty years ago this month, the major breakthrough in space exploration was sending astronauts to the moon. Today, with improved technology reducing costs, space goes far beyond the lunar landscape. It’s big business — investment firm UBS estimates that the space sector will grow from $340 billion to $926 billion by the year 2040. Space travel, for instance, has a chance to replace some of the airline industry’s longer flights. A New York to Shanghai flight now takes 15 hours. Some of the frontrunning space companies say future space trips could cover the same distance in less than an hour.

Here’s an interactive graphic from Reuters detailing where we’ve been in space, where we may be headed, and the role of private companies in building satellites and rockets: