- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Go to Space
Sooner or later, Earth is doomed
As the author Larry Niven said, “The dinosaurs went extinct because they didn’t have a space program. And if we become extinct because we don’t have a space program it’ll serve us right!”
Forget about the world ending due to the Mayan calendar. If an asteroid 6 to 10 miles across hits our planet, we’re toast. Toutatis (about 3 miles wide) passed by a while ago and didn’t make impact, but that doesn’t stop something bigger hitting much closer to home one day. And it’s not just asteroids – we’re doing a pretty shabby job at looking after our planet as it is, so getting out there and building a backup, whether as a space station, moon base or planetary colony, makes sense in the long run. Sure, we’re not going to get to that point overnight, but it pays to start now, before we’re facing a massive rock of doom bearing down on us.
As Carl Sagan said in Pale Blue Dot:
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
If we don’t have a backup, we put everyone we love and everyone we know at risk. Call me old-fashioned, but that seems like a bad thing.
There’s gold (and more) in them thar space rocks
So, maybe the extinction of our entire species, culture and civilization doesn’t get your blood pumping. Bit of a yawnfest, right? Well, that’s not the only reason we need to get up there. There’s cold hard cash too. Planetary Resources was founded by billionaires who hope to becomes the world’s first trillionaires
Saving lives (and much more) on Earth
Space is not like Vegas: What happens in space doesn’t just stay there. It helps us down here on earth too. OK, so Teflon and Velcro didn’t come about from the space program, but plenty of other things did: advances in artificial limbs, highway safety improvement, firefighting equipment and healthier baby food to name just a few. You can find loads more on WTFNasa. And that’s not to mention economic growth and jobs…
Exploring is in our DNA
This is the one closest to my heart, and the one I have the most trouble explaining – because I almost can’t explain it. It’s such a fundamental part of who I am, what makes me, well, me.
We’ve got to explore space. Because it’s there. Humanity has taken over the whole planet – something we share only with cockroaches and rats as far as I know. We didn’t explore the world because our species was expanding. Our species expanded because we were explorers.
In the age of exploration, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. In a new age of exploration, who will sail the ocean black? I, for one, would love to be one of those trailblazers.