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The Future: Genetic Engineering + Reusable Rockets

Pranav Sriram, Online Copy Editor

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Welcome to the final installment of “The Future” series. Today, we will look into the future of genetic engineering and reusable rockets.

Genetic Engineering: 

Genetic engineering has been one of the fastest growing scientific sectors in recent years. Perhaps one of the largest innovations in this field has been the development of the CRISPR-Cas9 (CRISPR) gene editing procedure. The American Assocation for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) named the development of CRISPR as its breakthrough of 2015.

Essentially CRISPR allows scientists to directly “edit” a cell’s genome. By combining Cas9 nuclease with guider RNA (gRNA), the cell’s genome can be cut at a desired location. The gRNA guides the Cas9 molecule to the correct part of the DNA strand before making a cut across both strands of DNA at the desired location. The cell then recognizes the damaged DNA and implements a DNA repair protocol . This repair protocol can be “hijacked” by scientists to introduce desired changes to a particular region of the genome.

Through these procedures, scientists can add and remove genes at will, which holds a number of applications for the future. In particular, genome editing techniques could be used to improve current procedures in both medicine and agriculture. More importantly, they could be used to help those with a predisposition toward extremely rare and dangerous diseases.

Further Interested: Check out this excellent YouTube video that goes further in depth into the potential applications and drawbacks of genetic engineering

Reusable Rockets: 

Everyone is familiar with the first rocket, Apollo 11, to land man on the Moon. These rockets were able to perform tremendous feats, but required vast amounts of resources. In particular, each rocket could only be used for a single voyage to the Moon. NASA’s next voyage to the Moon, Apollo 12, required a completely different rocket essentially made from scratch. However, with recent developments, this precarious situation could be completely avoided in the future. Two private companies, Blue Origin and SpaceX, have independently created completely reusable rockets that can take off, land, and be launched again.

In particular, on Dec. 21, 2015, Space X landed the Falcon 9 Flight 20 on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral after multiple failed launches. The significance to reusable rockets lies in the fact that they could be imperative to the future of the space industry. Reusable rockets could drastically lower the cost of space travel possibly making it affordable for the middle class to take trips to space in the future! In addition, reusable rockets allow economic resources to be allocated to different areas of the space development process which is expected to lead to widespread innovation across the space technology sector.

With that, I end the final post of “The Future” series. Hopefully, this got you all a little excited for the future of technology! I will be back soon with a new technology related post.


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