A new age of space exploration, and exploitation, is dawning. But surprisingly, some of the boldest efforts at putting humans into space are now those of private companies started by a handful of maverick billionaire businessmen. Brian Cox gains exclusive access behind the scenes at Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and Spaceport America, exploring what is really happening in privately financed space flight right now. From space tourism to asteroid mining, and even dreams of colonies on Mars, these new masters of the universe refuse to limit their imaginations. But are private companies led by Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk really going to be able to pull this off? How will they overcome the technical challenges to achieve it? And is it really a good idea, or just a fool's errand? Cox meets key players in the story - Bezos, founder of Blue Origin as well as Amazon, and Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic. He wants to find out how entrepreneurs - and engineers - really plan to overcome the daunting challenges of human space travel. It certainly hasn't been easy so far. Jeff Bezos has sold a further billion dollars of Amazon stock this year to fund Blue Origin. Branson has been working on Galactic for more than a decade. Lives have been lost. And some companies have already all but given up. But real progress has been made too. The origins of the new space boom, the X-prize in 2004, proved that reusable space craft could be built by private enterprise. Now the challenge is to work out how to run reliable, safe, affordable services that will show a return on the massive financial investments. Sixteen years since Dennis Tito became the first civilian in space, Cox explores the hardware and companies that are aiming to make daily tourist flights to space. Beyond mass space travel, and even space mining and manufacturing, the dream of Elon Musk and others is true space exploration. His company, SpaceX, already delivers supplies to the International Space Station, and their next step is delivering astronauts too. But their true ambition is to ensure the survival of the human race by crossing our solar system and colonizing Mars in the next decade. Could commercial spaceflight companies eventually make us a space-faring civilization?
In the Orion constellation, Betelgeuse, a red star 1,000 times the size of the Sun, is an old star that scientists predict will soon come to a violent end. Will we see a supernova explosion 100 times brighter than a full moon in our lifetimes? Will the explosion release rays harming life on Earth?
All life on Earth needs water so the search for aliens in the solar system has followed the search for water. We examine the patterns in the ice on Jupiter's moon Europa, which reveal an ocean far below with more potentially life-giving water than all the oceans on Earth. But of all the wonders of the solar system forged by the laws of nature, Brian reveals the greatest wonder of them all.
Professor Brian Cox explores the powerhouse of them all, the sun. In India he witnesses a total solar eclipse and in Norway, he watches the battle between the sun's wind and Earth, as the night sky glows with the northern lights. Beyond earth, the solar wind continues, creating dazzling aurora on other planets.
On September 14th, 2015, a ripple in the fabric of space, created by the violent collision of two distant black holes over a billion years ago, washed across the Earth. As it did, two laser-based detectors, 50 years in the making – one in Louisiana and the other in Washington State – momentarily twitched, confirming a century-old prediction by Albert Einstein and marking the opening of a new era in astronomy. Join some of the very scientists responsible for this most anticipated discovery of our age and see how gravitational waves will be used to explore the universe like never before.
MARS: Inside SpaceX will go inside SpaceX's plan to get humanity to Mars, providing an unprecedented glimpse into one of the world's most revolutionary companies. Filmed over the course of three years - this journey will take us behind the scenes with Elon Musk and his engineers - as they persevere amidst both disheartening setbacks and huge triumphs to advance the space industry faster than we ever thought possible.