Besides the bottom of the sea, very little exploration is left for us on Earth. The age of discovery is closed. Unless–and Star Trek was right on this one–we reach out and take up the mantle of the final frontier. For this reason, space exploration is one of the things I’d like to see.
As many of you know, I am a science fiction fan. This is both motivated by and contributes to my passion for space. The possibilities are intriguing and, while dangerous, might nevertheless yield great new adventures and discoveries.
Before you’re too quick to judge the ravings of a pie-eyed sci-fi nerd, understand that I realize it won’t be all laser guns and Spock ears. It will be hard work. It will move slowly. The warp drive, transports, food replicators? They may never be real things. And that’s OK. The important thing is that we get out there.
Resources are limited on Earth, but are undoubtedly more plentiful out there. Space is finite on our planet, but nigh unto infinite in the great beyond. It will be hard to make those first steps, but once a foothold is established there is great potential. New resources and opportunities heretofore unknown to us may be available. Now? They may be just beyond our reach.
We need a space elevator. We need a moon base. We need to figure out how to make such undertakings not only financially feasible, but profitable enough so that they become attractive to the public and private sectors alike. Energy production (solar or possibly nuclear) might be a way to do this. Asteroid mining might be another. How? We’ll, I’m not a space engineer, so I couldn’t say.
The Mars One expedition currently being planned is exciting, even if it does skip over a few initial steps. I respect its spirit. If humanity travels into space, settling Mars would seem to be a non-negotiable. While we may never turn the Red Planet into a lush jungle, it is certainly a better candidate for life than the other rocks circling the Sun.
Great difficulties await us if we go into space. Financial, political, administrative, technical, you name it. But I think it is worth trying. And certainly a lot better use of our limited means than making war.
I’ll admit I am probably never more utopian and optimistic (even though I know better) than when I’m thinking about space exploration. All the same, it is one of the things I’d like to see.