North­eastern senior Justin Dowd said a rev­o­lu­tion is coming in space flight—and he has a front row seat to prove it. In 2012, he won the inter­na­tional Race to Space com­pe­ti­tion offered through the global news­paper chain Metro in con­junc­tion with Space Expe­di­tion Cor­po­ra­tion, a pri­vate com­pany known as SXC. Next year, he said, he’ll strap into the two-​​person rocket-​​powered space­craft XCOR Lynx, blast off, and reach space in five min­utes by trav­eling at 2,000 miles per hour.

Dowd, S’14, a math and physics com­bined major, said advance­ments in com­mer­cial space flight in the coming decades are primed to have major impli­ca­tions for travel, global com­merce, sci­ence, the envi­ron­ment, and clean energy, which could be drawn from the sun and trans­mitted back to earth.

“The world is about to get a lot smaller. Orbital travel will allow you to set foot on the oppo­site side of the planet in two hours,” Dowd told about 100 North­eastern students—and many others watching online—on Sat­urday at TEDxNorth­east­ernU, held in Raytheon Amphithe­ater. “Easy access orbit will give a whole new meaning to same-​​day delivery—and long-​​distance relationships.”

All of this, Dowd said, rein­forces the idea that “an abyss of unknowns” still exists in the bound­aries of knowl­edge across all sub­jects, from his­tory to sci­ence. “That can only mean one thing: the world is not what it seems. It just can’t be. There are more ques­tions than answers,” Dowd said.