From science to politics, 2021 will go down in history as one that ushered in significant milestones

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March 21, 2021 1:00 AM

From science to politics, the year 2021 will go down in history as one that ushered in significant milestones in various fields

A rendering of Voyager Station, the world's first space hotel set to open in 2027 Photo: Voyager StationA rendering of Voyager Station, the world's first space hotel set to open in 2027 Photo: Voyager Station

One of the most important milestones of this year was the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. But that’s not the only first achieved this year.

Be it science, politics or world history, the year 2021 will go down in the annals of history as one that brought in significant changes and revived hope for many nations in a variety of fields.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, for one, has acquired materials connected with the first-known doses of FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccine administered in the US on December 14 by Northwell Health, a New York-based health provider. Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse with Northwell Health, was the first person known to receive the vaccine in the US. Northwell donated Lindsay’s vaccination record card, scrubs and hospital identification badge, as well as the now-empty Pfizer-BioNTech vial that contained the first doses. It also donated objects like additional vials, supplies needed to prepare, inject and track the vaccinations such as diluent, syringes and vaccination record cards.

Another big discovery this year was the announcement to open the first hotel in space, named Voyager Station, in 2027. It will be built by construction company Orbital Assembly Corporation, which describes itself as “the world’s first large scale space construction company”. It will come up in a 50,000-sq-m facility in 2026, with the first passengers visiting the hotel in 2027. What’s special is that the rotating hotel with rooms has plans to serve traditional ‘space food’—like freeze dried ice cream—in its restaurant, reports CNN Travel.

If there’s no luxury space left on earth, one can head to Aurora Station, a space hotel named after the Aurora lights that dazzle the earth’s polar skies. Due to be launched this year, it will check-in its first guests in 2022. The trip will span 12 days, giving four travellers a chance to orbit around the globe 16 times each day. Every 90 minutes, lucky travellers can experience a sunrise and a sunset, located 200 miles above the earth’s surface.

All Elon Musk fans have a big reason to celebrate this year, too, as SpaceX will launch four private individuals on a Crew Dragon capsule into orbit around the earth, which is being dubbed as “the world’s first all-civilian mission.” The spacecraft will be commanded by Jared Isaacman, the founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments. The mission, known as Inspiration4, seeks to raise support for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, US.

If digital currencies represent the future of money, China, in a first, is making progress to launch its own digital currency even as other members of the G20, and the likes of Sweden and Cambodia, are at various stages of research and development. The viability of digital currencies is still being explored around the world, but China is at the forefront and is expected to become the first major economy to launch a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). The timelines are not clear, but it is clear that the People’s Bank of China will accelerate the development, as CBDC differs from decentralised cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, which are based on blockchain technology, with each transaction verified by a network of computers.

Then there was Aero-India 2021, the world’s first hybrid aero and defence show last month, which saw the participation of top aviation firms, showcasing India’s indigenous defence capability for the export of fighter jets, helicopters and missiles.

While we may have seen the famous super-tall Burj Khalifa tower lit up during a special display celebrating world achievements, this time the structure caught the eye of its visitors as it celebrated for the first time a spacecraft from the Arab world reaching another planet.

The United Arab Emirates became the fifth nation or space agency to put a spacecraft into orbit around Mars last month with Hope, a probe built in partnership with US scientists to obtain a unique global perspective on the Red Planet’s weather and climate.

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