The International Space Station.  Image Credit:  NASA

The Value of Space Exploration

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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Read any debate about space exploration, and this question will invariably come up. “Why should we be spending money exploring space when there are so many problems here on Earth that we need to solve first?” It’s a tricky one. I’ve got a simple answer; space exploration is awesome. Come on, think of space ships traveling to other worlds – that’s really cool.

Okay, perhaps I’ve got too simplistic an argument, so I turned to the astrosphere and posed the question to other space bloggers. Here’s what they had to say…

Alun Salt – Archeoastronomy

Historical materials suggest that there wasn’t such sharp division between earth and sky in the ancient world. Instead there was one cosmos. Space exploration reveals that while there isn’t a divine link between the heavens and the earth, it is true that what happens up there can affect what happens down here. It would be useful to know about the cosmos, rather than just be a victim of it.

Mark Whittington – Curmudgeons Corner

What is the value of space exploration? Inherent in exploration of all types is the opportunities that it opens up to the people doing the exploring. For some it is the opportunity to gain new knowledge. For others it is the opportunity to create wealth and expand commerce. For still others the opportunity lies is trancendence, to grow spirtually and to gain a greater appreciation of the universe.

Alan Boyle – MSNBC Cosmic Log

I’ve been getting a healthy dose of the American revolution lately, between watching HBO’s “John Adams” miniseries and reading David McCullough’s “1776,” and that may be the reason I’m thinking of this in terms of pledging “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” rather than just thinking in terms of paying taxes. I like to think of the reasons for making that pledge, in terms of the push to outer space, as the five E’s (plus examples): exploration (to the moon and Mars), entertainment (cool Hubble pictures), energy (space solar power and asteroid mines), empire building (defending the high frontier) and extinction avoidance (fending off space rocks, and getting off this rock). Check out the log item for more.

Steinn Sigurdsson – Dynamics of Cats

Because: we look out, and wonder, and explore;

and we do what little we can on the margin of our busy lives to explore the bigger universe, today;

and that is one of the things that makes life worth living,

and gives us hope that the future can be better, for us and for future generations.

Ethan Siegel – Starts With a Bang

This is like asking why we should spend money on making our city better when there are so many problems here in our own homes. Or why we should spend money on understanding our whole world when there are so many problems here in our own country. Space is something that we are not only a part of, but that encompasses and affects all of us. Learning about the grandest scales of our lives — about the things that are larger than us and will go on relatively unaffected by whatever we do — that has value! And it might not have a value that I can put a price tag on, but in terms of unifying everyone, from people in my city to people in a foreign country to people or intelligences on other planets or in other galaxies, space exploration is something that is the great equalizer. And the knowledge, beauty, and understanding that we get from it is something that one person, group, or nation doesn’t get to keep to itself; what we learn about the Universe can be, should be, and if we do our jobs right, will be equally available to everyone, everywhere. This is where our entire world came from, and this is the abyss our entire world will eventually return to. And learning about that, exploring that, and gaining even a small understanding of that, has the ability to give us a perspective that we can never gain just by looking insularly around our little blue rock.

Bill Dunford – Riding with Robots on the High Frontier

Why should we worry about what’s going on outside the cave? We have so many problems here inside in the cave.

Why should we waste time trying to figure out agriculture? We have so much work to do hunting and gathering.

Why should we spend so much effort messing about in boats? We have so many issues here on the land.

Why should we fiddle with those computers? There is so much calculating that still needs to be done with these pencils.

Why should we explore space? We have so many problems here on Earth.

The answer to all these questions is the same: reaching for new heights often creates new solutions, new opportunity and elevated hope back on the ground.

We should NOT spend indiscriminately in space. But moderately-funded space exploration — as one small part of an overall program of basic scientific research — has blessed lives in many ways over the years, from satellites measuring drought conditions to new imaging techniques in hospitals to global communication.

Brian Wang – Next Big Future

Lack of a space program will not solve anything else faster and a well planned program [not what we have been doing] can deliver massive benefits. History shows the logical flaw.

There has been no historical example of any group “solving all of their problems before embarking on exploration/expansion/major project”. The solve all problems locally before advancing has not been shown to be a successful strategy. There has been major examples where the imperfect/highly flawed expander had major advantages over the non-expander (who was also flawed). The biggest one is China had the largest ocean going fleet in 1400’s. Then the emperor destroyed that fleet. The Western nations came a few hundred years later and forced China to give up Hong Kong and Macau for 99 years. The Europeans colonized North America and expanded economies because of those policies. The world has about a 60 trillion/year economy. There is not a shortage of resources in money or people to target problems. Well funded, well planned and well executed efforts can be directed at all of the problems simultaneously. Just putting ten times, a hundred times or a million times more money does not convert a failing plan, project against hunger, poverty, corruption into a successful plan. We better plans and better thinking.

Space exploration and development has had a lot of waste and a lack of purpose and a good plan. A strong case can be made that the overall purpose of the space programs have been one aspect of political pork with minimal space efforts and the name space program. Clearly the space shuttle and the space station have vastly under delivered for the money spent on them.

Strategies for successful space development: Focus on lowering the cost and the purpose of colonization and industrialization and
commerce (tourism etc…)

– If lowering the cost is best down with more robots then use robots first or mainly. do not force the manned program until costs go down.

– fuel depots in space (bring the costs down closer to the cost of LEO $2000/kg)

– More nuclear propulsion and non-chemical systems (mirrored laser arrays for launches).

Ian O’Neill – Astroengine

Being an astrophysicist and space colonization advocate, my natural, basic and very quick answer is: to explore the undiscovered. It is a very basic human trait to want to explore, why limit our horizons to the surface of the Earth when there are infinite possibilities for development of the human race amongst the stars? We could be on the verge of realising that this step into the cosmos is a very natural progression for us. To borrow a quote from Stephen Hawking:

“We once thought we were at the centre of the Universe. Then we thought the sun was. Eventually, we realised we were just on the edge of one of billions of galaxies. Soon we may have to humbly accept that our 3D universe is just one of many multi-dimensional worlds.” (ref)

Looking back on the 21st century, when we have established a presence throughout the solar system, future generations will view our “proto-space” selves much like how we look upon the pioneers and explorers of the 16th century who colonized the strange but fruitful lands of the Americas. Back then, the Earth was flat. Like then, the going will be tough and the rewards of “leaving the nest” will not be fully realised until we make that bold push into a new era of discovery. Space exploration is as natural as colonizing the continents; it may look costly from the outset, but in the end we’ll all benefit and evolve.

John Benac – Action For Space

Mankind’s expansion to the Moon and Mars will serve as a shocking and unifying symbol that lifts the even the poorest soul’s belief in what they, as a human, can accomplish. 7 billion people each raise their belief in what man, individually and in groups, can accomplish, and the collective change in positive self-confidence provides a new ability and impetus to solve all other problems on Earth.

Phil Plait – Bad Astronomy

First, the question of why spend money there when we have problems here is a false dichotomy. We have enough money to work on problems here and in space! We just don’t seem to choose to, which is maddening. $12 million an hour is spent in Iraq; the US government chose to do that instead of fix many problems that could have been solved with that money. NASA is less than 1% of the US budget, so it’s best to pick your fights wisely here.

Second, space exploration is necessary. We learn so much from it! Early attempts discovered the van Allen radiation belts (with America’s first satellite!). Later satellites found the ozone hole, letting us know we were damaging our ecosystem. Weather prediction via satellites is another obvious example, as well as global communication, TV, GPS, and much more.

If you want to narrow it down to exploring other planets and the Universe around us, again we can give the practical answer that the more we learn about our space environment, the more we learn about the Earth itself. Examining the Sun led us to understand that its magnetic field connects with ours, sometimes with disastrous results… yet we can fortify ourselves against the danger, should we so choose. Space exploration may yet save us from an asteroid impact, too. Spreading our seed to other worlds may eventually save the human race.

But I’m with Fraser. These are all good reasons, and there are many, many more. But it is the very nature of humans to explore! We could do nothing in our daily lives but look no farther than the ends of our noses. We could labor away in a gray, listless, dull world.

Or we can look up, look out to the skies, see what wonders are there, marvel at exploding stars, majestic galaxies, ringed worlds, and perhaps planets like our own. That gives us beauty and joy in our world, and adds a depth and dimension that we might otherwise miss.

Space exploration is cheap. Not exploring is always very, very expensive.

Astroprof – Astroprof’s Page

Space exploration is important BECAUSE we have problems here on Earth. We need to expand and grow as a species. Our planet has limited resources, and we need the resources availible in the Solar System as a whole if we are to use them to solve our problems here. The technological advances developed for space exploration also go to solving other problems on Earth. And, on top of all that, Earth is a planet. Understanding planets helps us understand our own planet. And, Earth is affected and influenced by external forces. Understanding those things also helps us to understand our planet, and allows us to adapt to changes that occur naturally or that we create.

Robert Pearlman – collectSPACE

Many of the problems we have on Earth are rooted in a our need for new ideas. From medical advancements to political diplomacy, it often takes a new perspective to find the answer. Space exploration offers the rare opportunity to look inwards while pushing out. The photographs sent back of the Earth as a “fragile blue marble”, a whole sphere for the first time, gave birth to the environmental movement. Astronauts, regardless of their home nation, have returned to Earth with a new world view, without borders. But the perspective isn’t limited to those who leave the planet. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon, “mankind” took on a new appreciation for all of humanity. It was “we” who went, even if “we” were not living in the United States. That sense of unity was recognized by the Apollo 11 crew upon their return to the planet: Buzz turned to Neil and commented, “We missed the whole thing…”

Robert Simpson – Orbiting Frog

The value of knowing about things is not quantifiable. We can qualitatively say that as we have become more knowledgeable, we have become better prepared for the things that come our way. We are more able to grow and to make progress by knowing more about the world we live in. Our planet is just one of many in a solar system that is also just one of many.

The cost of human exploration, and the risks involved, are often discussed. However everyone would seem to agree that until a human being had set foot on the Moon, we had not really been there. Likewise, it will not be until humans stand on Mars, that we have really visited the planet. Science can be done by robots and probes, but experience can still only be obtained by human beings.

Ryan AndersonThe Martian Chronicles

The List:
1. Perspective
2. Protecting and Understanding our World
3. Inspiration
4. The Economy
5. Exploration
6. New Technology
7. Answering the Big Questions
8. International Collaboration
9. Long-Term Survival
Click here to read the full version.

Of course, that’s just our opinion. What’s yours? Feel free to comment below and continue the discussion.


68 Responses

  1. MrBill says:

    I think it is absolutely crucial to distinguish between *manned* and *unmanned* space exploration.

    The former is a waste of time: humans are dumb, slow and fragile. Only a select few will ever benefit from personal exploration. Furthermore, manned exploration evokes concepts of “empire building” and “getting off this rock” which are both ridiculous notions. Not only is the Earth our home, creator and protector- hardly a “rock” which we must “get off” at all costs- but taking notions from our violent past (such as empire) and projecting them into space via manned exploration is ludicrous.

    Unmanned exploration, using robots, is the only purely productive, scientific, and creative endeavor humanity has ever embarked upon. The limits of robotic exploration of space are virtually nonexistent. Moreover, robotic exploration can involve *everyone*- it is more democratic and egalitarian then manned exploration. Even more crucial, unmanned exploration acknowledges that we HAVE NO WHERE TO GO. Earth is the only habitable planet we know of capable of sustaining human life (Mars has no magnetosphere, nor does Venus. Everywhere else is either too cold or too hot or too small or too big).

    In short: Manned space exploration- waste of time, counterproductive even.

    Robotic exploration- the only way to go!

  2. MrBill says:

    *And now that we have conquered Earth*

    The Earth never was and never will be something which requires “conquering”. This kind of masculine sentiment is at best stone aged, and it would be a crime to project that sentiment into space exploration (not annexation) as you seem to suggest.

    *Extinction avoidance.*

    There are much more immediate problems which need to be resolved. Extinction for you might mean the destruction of the Earth millions of years in the future, but for others it means surviving day to day life.

    Again, I fully support robotic exploration. What I do not support is sending dumb ape-like humans out into the galaxy to colonize/”conquer” it.

  3. Ian O'Neill says:

    I’m with Darnell – money is a very good reason, and case and point is the huge space tourism trend at the moment.

    When a wealth of precious metals are found on asteroids, I can see a similar trend toward astro-mining initiatives… supply and demand – there’s an infinite supply of “stuff” out there and there’s one hell of a demand down here…

    Cheers, Ian

  4. MrBill says:

    Oh Ian, I wanted to respond to your comment that the 16th century explorers thought the earth was flat:

    *we look upon the pioneers and explorers of the 16th century who colonized the strange but fruitful lands of the Americas. Back then, the Earth was flat.*

    This is not at all correct. It has been known since Greek times (and probably much earlier, back into Babylonian history) that the Earth was round.

    The notion that early European explorers of America thought the earth was flat is a myth propagated in the 19th century.

  5. MrBill says:

    *Historically speaking it has been precisely those imperialist desires for conquest that fuel exploration and expansion. It is also those societies that historically benefit the most and have the greatest prosperity*

    I would not disagree with your assessment. I would suggest that projecting these beliefs into extra-planetary and extra-solar exploration may not be entirely beneficial to either ourselves- or, more importantly- anything we encounter during our explorations.

    Surely you would agree that an imperialist conquistadorian mentality- a mentality which has led to the deaths of millions and the destruction of entire civilizations- is not something worth spreading about the galaxy.

    With robotic exploration there is no question: we come in peace, and we’re NOT staying.

  6. Phil Jackson says:

    Space exploration and development is of vital importance to future peace and prosperity here on Earth. As long as our civilization remains confined to Earth, humanity is trapped in a zero-sum game for the Earth’s limited resources.

    Space exploration and development is also the key to protecting Earth from a “deep impact” collision that could destroy civilization.

  7. Mr. LAME says:

    Space… the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before!

  8. Silver Thread says:

    As humans exist now, I am inclined to agree that the prospect of manned space exploration is unrealistic. The distinction between crossing the ocean and entering space is that there is some hope of finding a habitable locale on the other side of the ocean.

    I am deeply enamoured with the romantic notion of people in space, but I simply don’t see a great deal of feasibility in it. Space exploration however seems like a critical step in the advancement of our species. If we cease to care about expanding the frontiers of knowledge, there is little reason to think that other concerns should have any sort of social gravity.

  9. Vanamonde says:

    Extinction avoidance. There is no better reason. As long as we are all in this one biosphere, the chance of survival are deminished. Granted, we are a long of either finding some other place to live (unlikely at this time) or building a place to live that is sustainable (a little more likely but hard to do), but we need to start and work the problem. Worst case, the sun will boil the oceans in 50 million years. But gigadeath will coming so much sooner, thanks to unchecked reproduction.

    We have work to do.

  10. Emission Nebula says:

    I cant remember who said it, but I once heard someone say that “we are the universe trying to understand itself”

    And that saying will stick with me for the rest of my life.

    I dissagree with the post above me. I think manned missions are of the up most importance. We are indeed explorers. And now that we have conquered Earth, space and new worlds should be what we invest most of our money into.

    Plus finding life is important too. And there are many reasons for this. Go ask anyone in the field of astronomy why this is important.

  11. Yael Dragwyla says:

    How about this one: Because it’ll drive the stay-at-home carping idiots crazy! MuAHahahahah!!!

  12. These are great reasons, but you are missing the MAIN reason why people do not see the value in space.

    Money–plain and simple. People want to know what the “return investment” is, whether its in the form of new technology, energy saving or just plain gold.

    If we do not address these issues other than by saying “exploration” or “extinction avoidance,” then we are going to lose this argument fairly quickly.

    ~Darnell

    PS

    I do value the exploration and extinction arguments, although I do not think they are effective statements, especially with the next generation.

  13. Mike Puckett says:

    I see negative value in unmanned exploration unless it is a precursor to follow-on manned expeditions.

    The can only be justified by the latter.

  14. Casey S. says:

    I couldn’t disagree with MrBill more. Sending people to other places is the whole point of exploration. Yes of course unmanned exploration is a vital tool for expanding our science and knowledge, but the argument sounds suspiciously similar to those who don’t support space exploration at all. I don’t see a real differenc between the two arguments. Saying ‘it would be a crime’ to bring whatever sociological conflicts us ‘big dumb apes’ have to new places sounds awfully close to ‘we need to solve our problems here first before we can focus on what’s out there.’
    The fact is, is that disdain for ‘conquest’ and imperialism is nothing more than the current fashion of moral relativism. The view of it as a ‘crime’ is a product of current societal standards. Whatever society one belongs to, chances are it has been imperialist and expantionist in the past, and will be again sometime in the future.
    Historically speaking it has been precisely those imperialist desires for conquest that fuel exploration and expansion. It is also those societies that historically benefit the most and have the greatest prosperity, as several other commentators above have metioned, whether it be the Chinese in the 14th c., the Eurpeans of the 17th and 18th, or the Americans of the 19th and 20th c.
    As our technology improves so will our ability, desire, and need to expand increase. I have full confidence that humans as a race will be able to overcome whatever obstacles exist to space exploration in the near or distant future. I, for one, dream of humans going to another planet; not sending a probe there. Afterall, what fun is there in look but don’t touch?

  15. Emission Nebula says:

    “And now that we have conquered Earth”, by this I meant that there really isnt new land for us to explore. Sure there are parts of Earth that no one has stepped foot on, but is it really going to look much different from the last place we looked? Are we going to find new things that are going to “wow” the world?
    I dont believe so.

    Humans have the understanding to achieve so much more than what this little blue marble has to offer.
    Hows the saying go, “we dont do these things because they are easy. We do them because they are hard”.

    Sound familer?
    I think more people should have this mentality.

    Cheers 🙂

  16. s0l says:

    Space exploration will be and should be the greatest justification as to why we have, we NEED to solve our global problems right here on this “rock” as some say…There IS no where else to go, plain and simple.

    There is no place in the solar system, and nothing in close vicinity either.

    People who say “we need to expand the empire” and “overpopulation is the problem” are, in my humble opinion, heartless and disrespectful to our species.

    Those concepts are osbolete and have nothing to do with space exploration, it’s just politics, and rightwing politics at that.

    We need to explore outside this wonderful blue marble to establish once and for all peace, equality and unity inside the marble.

    Then we’ll be “old” or “wise” enough to become starfarers…no until then.

    I totally agree that space provides a R&D push that has been and will be vital in the coming tens of years and in order to make that environment viable we need to find ways to make it valuable to decision makers. But if it means repeating the same errors as before (state/financial monopolies and deceit notably), we might as well just all kill ourselves down here and let Nature reign again…

    The Marble Prevails.

  17. Emission Nebula says:

    Dear Casey S,

    Thank you 🙂

  18. Casey S. says:

    In response to MrBill, it is true that these beliefs will not be beneficial in every way to ourselves or what we may encounter, but only insofar as no societal system is perfect and beneficial to all parties in all circumstances. While this mind set has led to the ‘deaths of millions and the destruction of entire civilizations,’ or at least contributed to such things, like it or not, historical reality shows that it is the powerful and prosperous civilizations that survive and those that are weaker are conquored, assimilated, or destroyed. This is the way that human society has been ever since its beginning and is likely to be so as long as it exists.
    Those who colonize, those who expand, are those who survive. Again from a historical perspective and to use language as an analogy of past power and prosperity, it is because of the Romans that most of Europe speaks languages derived from Latin and not Phoenician, Oscan, or Parthian, very few, if any, in the Carribean, Central, or South America speak Arawak, Incan, or Mayan because of the success of the Spanish, and it is because of the British and the Americans that most of the world speaks or understands English.
    While one could make the argument that whatever we may meet may not have such societal understandings or problems, that is at best speculation with no grounding in knowable facts.
    The type of mindset that we have been discussing is the one that has the best proven track record for success. For all of its trial and tribulations the human species, in my opinion, is better off now than in any other point during its existence and our conceptions of society and civilization are based on the successes of these very types of civilizations.
    While I do agree that robotic exploration has a very useful and important role to play, and there is certainly nothing wrong with coming in peace, it seems to me that the whole point IS to stay. To me that just seems practical.

  19. Uwe Heine says:

    People keep talking about spending money in space. At some point whoever invests in space technology is going to start reaping the benefits. The resources in space are spread very thin, but compared to earth the energy and material there are essentially infinite. Whoever first exceeds financial break-even with regard to space resources is going to dominate the global economy. Space exploration (including manned) is an investment in the future prosperity of mankind. Lately China seems to be more visionary than the US in this regard.

  20. Jeff Krukin says:

    Please see the article about “The Human-Space Connection®” at http://archives.betterhumans.com/Columns/Column/tabid/79/Column/365/Default.aspx.

  21. Dutch Delight says:

    It’s a bit naive to contend we have nowhere to go in our solar system. Exploring and developing mining opportunities in the asteroid belt seem relatively interesting. An outpost there with a fleet of robotic mining equipment would be interesting, you could be dropping raw material ready for processing down the gravity well and collect them somewhere near earth orbit and use that for space construction. At least it would take away the bottleneck of having to use expensive rockets to launch everything into space

    We’d need to work out how we can make such outposts independent from resupplies (air/water/food/etc) or it will start costing a lot more.

  22. john says:

    We dream, we do some of our dreams and we aspire to higher things. Space is another dream, aspiration and a worthy goal for humanity.

  23. Frank Glover says:

    If there’s money to be made by humans in space, that will be the best reason of all to go…

    Mr. Bill seems not to realize that space is a frontier, not a science experiment. Science is one of the biggest reasons for what we do in space, but hardly the first or the only. (Witness the Apollo program. Yes, it was born of Cold War pressures [leaving no infrastructure to build on, it was the fastest, not the most efficent way to get men to the Moon] and science was along for the ride (not the first time in history this was so), but I doubt the scientists involved would throw away their data because it wasn’t gathered robotically.

    Also, Earth/Nature is NOT always our kind protector (this is what drives evolution, after all). I live in an area the technology of houses and central heating, not ‘Earth.’ makes life comfortable in the winter months.

    Other humans (from the Inuit/Eskimos to the Australian Aborigines) have lived in even more challenging environments with even less technology. Not as ‘dumb and fragile’ as you suggest. We have a long histroy of living in places that are hardly ‘shirtsleeve’ environments, we don’t necessairily need Earth-like worlds to live and thrive. In principle, humans can exist (and comfortably) wherever there are resources and energy, things the Universe is hardly short of. How can there possibly be ‘no whee to go?’ (Even Carl Sagan, no fan of manned space, once warned of not assuming life can’t exist ‘..in places my grandmother would find uncomfortable.’ [in The Cosmic Connection, I think])

    In comercial flight, technology allows us to travel in comfort, by taking a piece of our preferred environment with us. Decades of space flight have shown we already have a good sense of doing the same, outside the atmosphere.

    Robotic exploration is not ‘involvement,’ it’s ‘apptite-whetting.’ Wether it’s Hawaii or Pluto, pictures aren’t enough. Ultimately I want to be present, not ‘telepresent.’

    Technology marches on. (even robot probes aren’t what they once were) What was once difficult and dangerous is now commonplace. (I could be speaking of transoceanic and trans continental travel, but it will ultimately be true in space.)

    And not ‘at all costs’ like Apollo, but as part of ongoing commercial development.

    And…how can we be smart enough to appreciate the findings of our machines (which hardly created themselves, and are not yet even as smart as us), and yet be ‘too dumb?’ I’m seeing a contradiction here…

  24. Alex Michael Bonnici says:

    We must explore and colonize space. Our long term survival as a species depends on this. Humankind faces an Extraterrestrial Imperative which is just as much a survival imperative – Colonize space or die. And, with our passing the light of human reason and thought will have been extinguished from the Cosmos forever. We can argue about cost and engineering until we are all blue in the face. We may be as cynical about the goals and motivations behind our current plans to return to the Moon and forge ahead to Mars all we wish. But, the fact remains that space exploration- both robotic and manned is vital to our long term survival as a species.

    This is not a religious conviction but, a fact of nature revealed by the science of our age. Our entire solar system bears testament to its violent legacy. All the planets and moons bare the scars of a tumultuous history. None of them have gone through their lengthy existence unscathed by the violent impact of asteroids and comets.

    Uranus was toppled off its axis by a giant planetoid the size of our own world and its moon Miranda was torn apart and reassembled in the process. Mars is a world that was murdered in its early infancy before it had any chance of completely fulfilling its promise of becoming an abode of life. Most of its crust and atmosphere were flayed and ejected into space by impacts with giant asteroids and comets.

    Towards the late nineteenth and throughout the twentieth centuries some one hundred and fifty impact craters have been discovered on our own planetary abode. In the twentieth century two impacts occurred in Eastern Russia. On June 30th, 1908, Moscow escaped destruction by three hours and four thousand kilometres—when an object some 70 meters in diameter impacted the Siberian region of Tunguska with the explosive yield of 1000 Hiroshima bombs. On February 12th, 1947, another Russian city had a still narrower escape, when the second great meteorite of the last century detonated less than four hundred kilometres from Vladivostok in a rain of rock and iron. On August 10th, 1972 the Earth survived a near direct hit and escaped with a mere flesh wound when a meteorite zoomed over the state of Wyoming and grazed the upper atmosphere and bounced back into space before thousands of eyewitnesses. Its blazing trail was even captured on film.

    In the early 1980s evidence slowly accumulated that sixty-five million years ago the reign of the dinosaurs ended with a huge bang and ensuing fire storm. Before that violent mass extinctions occurred like clockwork throughout the evolutionary history of life on Earth.

    The Moon, a world of on our very doorstep, provides a clear warning for all to see that our world is living on borrowed time. In the chronicle of Gervase an eyewitness account was given of a massive impact on the eastern limb of the Moon that occurred on June 25th, 1178. Evidence is also coming to light that June, despite our fondness for this month because of weddings and the promise of summer holidays to come, holds potential dangers for humanity. The Taurid beta meteor shower is one we must study in detail. It is the progenitor of both the Tunguska fireball and the object that created the blast recorded by Gervase, and lurking in its wake are more potential disasters to come.

    In the late 20th century archaeological evidence has come to light that many late Bronze Age civilizations may have met their demise in a rain of fire from the sky. Back in July, 1994 during the week of the 25th anniversary marking man’s first steps on the Moon the heavens provided a massive fireworks display of their own to mark the occasion. The planet Jupiter sustained twenty individual impacts from the fragments left over from the disintegration of the comet Shoemaker–Levy 9. Any one of these impacts would have been sufficient in themselves to wipe life off the face of our globe in a real Extinction Level Event (E.L.E).

    Yet despite all this accumulated evidence we continue to go about our humdrum worldly concerns, abandoning any attention to the heavens and the dangers that lurk in the local celestial neighbourhood. We face the celestial equivalent of a 9/11. Humanity can no longer ignore the objective reality that its long term existence is imperilled. We either become a spacefaring civilization or face the fate of the dinosaurs.

    Neither are the existential threats we face as a species limited to the perils from outer space. We also face the hazards of Super-volcanism, catastrophic climate change (both natural and anthropogenic), resource depletion and the products of our own technological folly: total nuclear warfare, biological terrorism and nanotechnology gone amok.

    Plotting Our Future Course

    Our ventures into space are not just the mere dare devil stunts of military test pilots nor are they a flags and footprints exercise in nationalistic chauvinism. And, neither are they the exclusive province of arcane scientific interest “just to bring back some rocks.”

    Exploration has always been vital to the survival of human species and an integral component of our evolutional heritage and survival imperative. The lure and call of distant lands and new horizons is rooted in our very genes.

    In 1978, paleontogist Mary Leaky and her team discovered the earliest hominid footprints (dated to be Three and a half Million years old) preserved in volcanic ash at Laetoli, forty-five kilometres south of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. They belong to one of our proto human ancestors – Australopithecus afarensis. From Olduvai Gorge to the Sea of Tranquillity, we humans have travelled very far. Posted on the Discovery Enterprise blog site(http://discoveryenterprise.blogspot.com/2007/10/space-age-next-giant-leap.html) is picture which shows one of the fossil footprints preserved at Laetoli, next to the boot print left by an Apollo astronaut on the Moon.

    It is very symbolic of the giant leap forward we have taken as a species. The time has now come to venture further out on this vast new ocean of space. We must return to the Moon, this time to stay, and become a multi-planetary species. We must learn to utilize the vast untapped energy and mineral resources of the Moon and the Near Earth Asteroids and take the next giant leap forward to transform our species, Homo Sapiens, into Homo Stellaris. October 4th, 1957 marks our first baby step towards that goal.

  25. **Adventure, exploration, learning what’s out there

    **Wealth, opportunities, jobs
    — Most everything made on earth can be made in space at less cost. Manufacturing facilities can be made quickly using a few mold forms, asteroid materials, sand casting, and assembly of molded pieces into modules that interconnect.
    — Business means jobs and space has everything the bright entreprenuer wants and the additional advantage of the flexibility in controlling G-forces from many times that of earth down to zero-G and the added increased productivity and any new product possibilities discovered therefrom.
    — The world’s oil and gas reserves are running out. We must deal with the energy crisis and the depletion of natural resources. The resources of space are essential to any serious effort to tackle these problems.

    — A two-kilometer-wide asteroid holds more metal than all the ore mined on Earth since the beginning of civilization. Half of asteroids are water rich. Asteroidal materials are useful for propulsion, building materials, life support, agriculture, metallurgy, semiconductors, precious and strategic metals, to manufacture structural materials, for solar photovoltaic arrays which could be used to power space habitats and/or lunar habitats, space tourist facilitation / accomodations (ie. orbiting hotels), pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, ultra-pure crystals, for radiation shielding, and on and on.
    — Services include manufacturing, construction, repositioning asteroids, materials processing, mining, spacecraft inspection, repair, welding, hull assembling, shipping, tourism, and more.

    **Your own spacecraft
    One product that needs to be mass produced in space is an interconnectable private transport vehicle and spacecrafts according to customer specifications.

    **More successful missions
    Humans give us a competitive advantage over those that use only robots.
    — Humans are capable of dealing with the unexpected and the unanticipated and therefore those things robots and equipment have not been fully programmed for.
    — As needed, humans can retrieve any damaged equipment and robots for later repair and upgrading.
    — Repairs, modifications, and improvements to robots and equipment can be made. Humans can work on non-functioning or less than optimally functioning equipment.

    **Life
    — A virus is likely to wipe out humanity unless we set up multiple locations in space.
    — It’s easier to control the air quality and thermal conditions of a space habitat than an entire planet. People can breathe better air. Terraforming terra may be needed soon but may never really happen.
    — Earth’s growing population and crowded conditions makes space more appealing offering more room to inhabit and build upon.
    — Potentially dangerous asteroids heading for earth, moon, etc, can be repositioned. An asteroid only needs a small nudge to miss the earth completely. The cost can be recovered via adding a small surcharge when pricing space products/services.
    — Over time as asteroid materials are shipped to earth, the cost of the materials reduces. Because of the reduction in costs of raw materials used by NASA and other space agencies, the cost of launching people into space reduces thereby making possible the launching of more essential personnel, people with average incomes, and even make possible earth’s evacuation should that ever be needed. CYGO also wants to make the first earth lander/launcher using the materials from asteroids as well as needed lightweight components from earth (these would later be made by ourselves).
    — Currently, all known lifeforms are located only on earth. Given the certainty of an event of cataclismic proportions occuring and the uncertanty of just when that event will occur, it’s important to locate life, including ourselves, in multiple places in space.

    **Enjoyment and personal reasons
    Space is fun. Ask anyone who has done spacewalking. Imagine space sports or seeing Saturn up close. A mountain climber was asked why he climbed the mountain. He said, “Because it’s there.” Sometimes you don’t need a lot of reasons to do something. Why do people dance? Sometimes people have their own personal reasons. Sometimes they have no reason that seems clear even to themselves. Sometimes doing something just because you want to do it is good enough.

  26. MrBill says:

    Robots could do everything cheaper better and faster.

    You want sample results from a distant planet? Robots.
    You want full spectrum imaging and analysis? Robots.
    You want do it with total efficiency, with the smallest possible payload? Robots.

    In short, robots 1, dumb ape-men in space suits, 0.

  27. ed says:

    The only viable argument is existentialism!
    We are free beings and the Universe is the ultimate expression of freedom.
    Imagine being able to master the universe through exploration?
    I guess the question is not: “Why should we be spending money exploring space when there are so many problems here on Earth that we need to solve first?”
    BUT
    Why shouldn’t we?

  28. MrBill says:

    I agree with you Jon-

    The record is certainly against the burgeoning robotics industry. But are you surprised? These are technologies that are still in their infancy today, and were at best proto-experimental in the 1960s. Robotic exploration requires as much support and funding as manned missions have received in the past (the 500 billion dollar price tag of the Apollo program comes to mind).

    Again, robotics has come a long way, and it still has a long way to go. But with the proper encouragement (ie, by not splitting resources between manned and unmanned missions) and by having a clear objective towards unmanned development robotics technologies will *in the future* be more successful then manned missions ever have, or could be.

  29. JonClarke says:

    “Mr Bill”, in apparent ignorance of history, wrote:

    “Robots could do everything cheaper better and faster.”

    Cheaper? Unmanned missions are more expensive than crewed ones on a per kg basis.

    Better? For what? routine monitoring from orbit? Certainly yes. For detailed exploration of planetary surfaces, certainly not. Crewed missions are thousands of times for effective.

    Faster? On planetary surfaces unmanned missions are between 100 and 1000 times slower than crewed missions, based on actual mission experience.

    “You want sample results from a distant planet? Robots.”

    Unmanned missions have returned less than 400 grams of samples. Crewed missions have returned 400 kg. The unmanned missions returned samples from single points on the lunar surface with limited context data. Crewed missions returned samples from hundreds of sites with extensive context information.

    “You want full spectrum imaging and analysis? Robots.”

    Crewe missions would carry the same instruentation, only more of it because of greater payloads and more power, return it faster because of greater bandwidth, and use the instruments more effectively because of greater mobility, dexterity, and on the spot decision making.

    “You want do it with total efficiency, with the smallest possible payload? Robots.”

    Total efficiency? When roughly a third of all unamanned missions to the Moon failed, When about a fifth of all unammned missions beyond earth orbit have been failures? When maany of those failures have been because of trivial problems that could have been overcome by people on the spot?

    Smaallest paayloads? Yes, their unmanned missions have the advantage. Much small payloads mean limited missions. Exploring space with the smallest possible payloads is like doing astronomy with the smallest possible telescopes.

    “In short, robots 1, dumb ape-men in space suits, 0.”

    Robots are just inert lumps without the “dumb ape men” designing, building, and controlling their every move.

    Robots by themselves achieve nothing.

    Robots controlled by people on a distant planet achieve a great deal.

    Robots working with and along side people on the same planet achieve much more.

    Jon

  30. JonClarke says:

    “MrBill” wrote:

    “the 500 billion dollar price tag of the Apollo program comes to mind”

    The Apollo program did nost cost 500 billion. It cost only a quarter of this, $135 billion in 2006 dollarss, spread over more than a decade.

    I think you miss my point entirely.

    “But with the proper encouragement… and by having a clear objective towards unmanned development robotics technologies will *in the future* be more successful then manned missions ever have, or could be.”

    All space missions benefit from proper encouragement and clear objectives.

    Asserting that future unmanned missions will “be more successful then manned missions ever have, or could be” simply fails to recognise the very different and complementary roles of unmanned and crewed exploration. Unmanned missions are ideal for simple obervation. Bit they cannot match a human crew for ability to explore and work on the Moon and Mars.

    Jon

  31. Kevin M. says:

    All the money you throw at social problems on Earth will never resolve those problems, especially poverty. Space exploration at least makes a real, measurable change in our horizons.

  32. baley says:

    Pure science is most of the times useless too, but we do that because in the future could lead to breakthroughs that’s the same with Space exploration.

  33. MrBill says:

    *It cost only a quarter of this, $135 billion in 2006 dollarss, spread over more than a decade.*

    Hardly cheap… that’s 25 billion or so in 1969.

    The USS Nimitz, the most advanced aircraft carrier in the world which began construction in 1968 then cost $4.5 billion dollars (5 carriers).

    The 5th ship in the Nimitz class, incidentally, wasn’t built until 1986.

    The entire 2003 Mars Exploration Rover Mission was a paltry 820 millions dollars!

  34. Astrofiend (Syd, Aust) says:

    “I’ve got a simple answer; space exploration is awesome.”

    Nuff said.

  35. Brian says:

    Everyone who has commented about space exploration has made several good points, and then a few who have not. The answer is simple…WE HAVE TO.

    Phil is right in the first post, that we must spread to ensure the survival of the human species. However, the point is moot if we have no way of getting there. Ships would have to have a way of keeping the people onboard alive during the trip (cryogenics?).

    And if getting there is a problem, there is an even bigger one…where do we go? What we have to do is either send exponentially more probes out into space, or develop better ways of finding planets that we can use.

    The biggest problem facing us with the technology we have in our probes, is that it takes such a long time to communicate with them. With any probes sent out farther, this will only get worse. The development of better systems is key as well (Shortest Single-Photon Pulse Generated: Implications for Quantum Communications in Space).

    I could go on about what we need, but I think the answer is clear. Humans have always been curious about the world we live in, what happens when there is nowhere else to go? Where will we go?

    …to the stars.

  36. QED says:

    I agree with the Human Exploration view , but think a human accompanied by robots is more optimal and , as artificial intelligence capability grows the robots should take over more tasks when the AI capability far exceeds that of a Human for the particular task.
    The question of abandoning Space Exploration in order to solve all the problems here on Earth first is analogous to a scenario where we abandon all Higher order Mathematics development and try solve all practical problems by methods where we can only add ,subtract and multiply and use a measuring stick.
    One way of making a decision on which fork in the road to take , is to rest awhile and sit back and observe the path that the known religious fanatics, non risk takers , charlatans , or the proven non thinkers choose , and then take the opposite path.
    Historically , the path of Species Exploration has been significantly beneficial to those species taking risks or mutating and following it , and the other path has led to a steep cliff and eventual extinction for that species.

  37. JonClarke says:

    I wrote with respect to “MrBill’s incorrect plain that Apollo cost 500 billion dollars:

    “It cost only a quarter of this, $135 billion in 2006 dollarss, spread over more than a decade.”

    MrBill responded:

    “Hardly cheap… that’s 25 billion or so in 1969.”

    Nobody said Apollo was cheap. But that is no reason to inflate the cost by a factor of four.

    “MrBill” further claimed that:

    “The entire 2003 Mars Exploration Rover Mission was a paltry 820 millions dollars!”

    Correct, but over three quarter of a billion is hardly “paltry”. it is a mid class mission.

    What is paltry is what the MERs have achieved compared to a human misssion. They take a year to cover the ground an astronaut on foot would cover in a day. Their entire mission has been spent covering less ground than astronauts could using a simple unpressurised rover. They carry only a handful of instruments, have very limited abilities to study their environment, are painfully slow and don’t return any samples. Their limitations illustrate why we need people on the ground if we are really to explore Mars.

    Jon

  38. Dave S says:

    Have we really become so heartless? Such lame excuses for not addressing the needs of children who need our help today.

    Why are we so willing to allow so many to suffer and die over the “Conquest of Space”? Perhaps because we don’t see them everyday on the way to work? Maybe helping the millions in poverty is just not as much fun as exploring space.

    The cost of putting men back on the moon would be enough to drill thousands of freshwater wells, provide meals to tens of thousands of people, and provide netting to prevent malaria to thousands more. Why can’t we delaly going back to the moon for a decade and take care of people on Earth first.

    Those who say we have conquered Earth are deluding themselves. We recently had hundreds of thousands die from tsunami waves without any warning. With the installation of sensors we arlready know how to make we could have saved perhaps tens of thousands of lives. We have not conquered Earth. We hardly understand her. How much of the deep ocean have we explored? How about the plants in the jungle? We haven’t scratched the surface.

    AIDS is taking thousands of lives daily throughout the world. We neglected this problem long enough. Perhaps solving this problem will give us the knowledge we will need to solve future pandemics.

    I am not saying that space exploration is evil. My childhood hero was Alan Shepard. Still is. I simply can not justify letting people die from things we can solve so easily right now. In many cases the problem can be addressed by just drilling a well for clean water. Netting to prevent malaria. AIDS is a different story. I believe that we have people smart enough to solve this nightmare problem if we just put a huge effort behind this. We look to space as if we can just run away from these Earth based problems.

    Someday we are going to reap the punishment for not putting our great resources into solving starvation, clean water and sanitation for the developing world. Either in this world or the next.

    I too am blown away by the great images coming from Hubble and other amazing satelites we have created. I cried when the brave astronauts returned safely to Earth on Apolo 13. I am so proud of the people at NASA and the contractors who worked so hard and smart on getting them home safely. They are heros all.

    Look into the face of a starving child as you give them food for the first time in days or weeks. How about the feeling watching a dehydrated child drinking a cool glass of clean fresh water for the first time. These simple things are more important than exploring space. They have to be. Our humanity depends on it.

  39. wisnij says:

    @Dave S – your compassion does you credit, but as previously noted, space exploration is not an all-or-nothing proposition. We have enough material resources to accomplish much both on Earth and off it. The real bottleneck is usually political capital. We’re never going to fix all of our civilization’s problems, so waiting until that happens is not a valid strategy — and new discoveries can lead to new tools or resources for use with Earthbound concerns.

    And on a more morbid note, clean drinking water isn’t going to help anyone the next time a K-T event-like impactor comes by with our name on it. Unless we want to go the way of the dinosaurs, we have to establish settlements elsewhere in the solar system.

  40. Steeev says:

    Last time I checked, we weren’t launching rocketloads of cash into space. That money all stays here on earth.

    The space program needs buildings. Built by contractors. Who make money. And then they spend it.

    It would be interesting to follow a theoretical dollar spent on “space exploration” and see where it ends up. Probably on Earth.

  41. Harvey says:

    Robotic missions are great for science, but robotic missions alone will not get mankind to the stars. And if the species is to survive in the long term, we can’t stay here.

    Sooner or later the expansion of the sun or another disaster will render the Earth uninhabitable to humans. If humans aren’t elsewhere by then, that will be it for the species.

    We’ll never have more resources with which to start working on the problem than we have now. Delay just makes extinction more likely.

    And as many others have pointed out above, cancelling space exploration will not solve hunger, neither will it achieve world peace nor provide every child with loving home and a fluffy kitten. There’s no reason the species can’t strive for more than one dream at a time.

  42. JonClarke says:

    Dave S

    Your compassion and passion are commendable.

    Please remember that orders of magntiude more is spent on the needy through overseas aid programs, health and education budgets, and social security than is spent on space exploration. And this is as it should be.

    Spce exploration commands only a fraction of 1% of national GDP, even in those countries that invest in it. But that small investent has repaid itself to the poor and needy in many ways. Better early warning of cyclones in the Indian ocean and prediction of conditions promoting locust plagues in Africa alone have saved millions from natural disaster and famine.

    Jon

  43. Frank Glover says:

    “”MrBill” further claimed that:

    “The entire 2003 Mars Exploration Rover Mission was a paltry 820 millions dollars!”

    Correct, but over three quarter of a billion is hardly “paltry”. it is a mid class mission.

    This is something else to be remembered: It can be argued that for a very specific purpose, a manned mission may be more expensive than an unmanned one…but there’s a large number of people out there who aren’t interested in *any* of this, and to whom a ‘just’ a few hundred million for a robotic mission will *still* cause the classic response: “We should be spending that money on (fill in the blank).”

    Our major goal should be lower-cost, more reliable space access for ALL existing and potential users…and science probes alone simply will not provide enough of a market to encourage development of those systems.

    Encouraging private space development makes seats and payload space more available for all, so that, like research (and a modest degree of tourism) in Antarctica, it becomes an under-the-radar issue that takes an even smaller slice from the taxpayers, and allows for more non-government entities to risk their own money.

    The alternative would seem to be not only an absence of manned space flight, but only ‘politically correct’ Earth-monitoring space probes (as desirable as those nevertheless are) and *maybe* some solar physics related launches (and nothing looking at the rest of the Universe) on the same tired expendable launcher technology for the rest of the century…

  44. Dave S says:

    That’s that problem. We strive for every dream at the same time and accomplish little toward any of them. We need to seriously prioritize the issues we want to apply our limited resources (money and people) toward. We should be getting the most important things done first.

    We dilute our efforts in a fruitless attempt to make everyone feel like we are doing something about their issue. This nonsense about getting ready for the sun to explode is just nuts. How many millions or billions of years away is that? These arguments mean less than nothing to people with no home, no medical care, no food, no water and less.

    Nobody is talking about cancelling the space program. Let’s take a look at how we are spending our money and make sure we really are doing the right thing with the limited resources we have. Just like the budget that every family problably has set up. They prioritize what is most important and they allocate based on that. Why can’t the government do the same?

    If we can’t find a way to take care of the people and problems on Earth what is taking our attitudes and values to a new planet going to do? Let’s work to develop a system of values and priorities and are worth exporting off the planet. Let’s find a way so that no humans get left behind.

    Is it impossible to provide the basics for life to all humans or are we just willing to sacrifice a few million a year to further mans exploration of space?

  45. JonClarke says:

    Dave S wrote:

    “That’s that problem. We strive for every dream at the same time and accomplish little toward any of them. We need to seriously prioritize the issues we want to apply our limited resources (money and people) toward. We should be getting the most important things done first.”

    Agreed, and that is what human societies are doing. Space exploration is a trivial expediture compared to othe programs devoted to improving human good.

    Plus space exploration is something that improves the lot of humanity. Communcations, weather, navigation, ars conrol, search and rescue, geodetic, space physics and remote sensing satellites are all the result of space exploration and powerful tools for the common good. Our awareness of problems such as global green house and ozone depletion have come about because of space exploration.

    If we want targets for claims of extravagant expediture, lets look to military budgets, or sport and entertainent.

    Jon

  46. Mark Yannone says:

    “Why should we be spending money exploring space when there are so many problems here on Earth that we need to solve first?”

    The question is fatally sloppy because it omits a crucial element. The money that is being spent is taken from the rightful owners by coercion–that’s by force or threat of force, deadly force if necessary.

    If you are asking about spending your own money on space, then my answer to you is simply this: It’s your money. Spend it as you see fit, wisely or foolishly. I have nothing to say about it.

  47. Ian Randal Strock says:

    I usually start answering that question by asking if the questioner thinks we’re putting a big pile of dollar bills in a rocket and shooting it into space. The money spent on space is spent right here on the ground, paying employees who in turn buy things, and buying things from other companies which in turn pay employees and suppliers.

    If we move beyond that, I ask the questioner how much of his tax dollar he thinks is being spent on space, and if he might compare it to the amount being spent on the Department of Agriculture, or Labor, or (the big one) how much of his tax dollar is taken in by the government solely for the purpose of giving it to another citizen. With NASA’s budget well under 1% of the federal budget, “are we spending too much on space” always strikes me as an attempt to divert attention from the big ticket items.

  48. Emission Nebula says:

    For the people crying about our problems here on Earth, and why do we spend so much money on space; first and formost, why are you even looking at Universe Today? Shouldnt you be elsewhere crying about something that has nothing to do with the other?
    And second, well I just said it, one thing has nothing to do with the other.

  49. Bob says:

    Exploring the stars has nurtured all the sciences on earth. All the sciences are intertwined.

    Astronomy brought spectroscopes to humankind and without spectroscopes biology and chemistry would not function at all.

    X-ray detection came from X-ray telescopes and from lab experimentalists like Runtgen on the ground. Along with the aid of spectroscoopes we have been able to analyze the difference between the ways in which X-rays can be created and detected.

    Crystallography comes from X-ray science and enables us to see the the physical structure of molecules and allows us to view the behavior of diesel fuels in fuel injectors and to watch how viruses enter cells and interact with the cell once inside. It has enabled us to see how fruit fly muscles behave just like human heart muscle. The number of discoveries at places like Argonne Labs are creating new drugs with less side effects, bullet-proof vests, artificial limbs and heart muscles that are incredibly efficient. Research in diseases like diabetes, cancer, ecoli and others are all finding advances toward cures from the use of crystallography.

    The studies of the sun, dying stars, white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes has brought about discoveries in quantum physics. Meanwhile, back here on the ground, our particle accelerators have confirmed what astronomers discovered and, with the aid of NASA, have realized and brought those astronomers newer dicoveries about the microcosmos. And those particle accelerators have provided us with the source for the X-rays used in crystallography.

    The study of spacetime structure on board Columbia has shown how molecules shape themselves differently in microgravity. Moss on the earth’s surface reacts to the gravitational field by growing away from it inside of caves. In space it developes a Fibonacci spiral pattern like sunflowers have on earth. But those sunflowers lose their spiral patterns in microgravity. This means that spacetime structure affects molecular shapes and makes us realize that evolution on another earthlike planet with a different mass will take an entirely different journey.

    It also means that topology dictates how shapes change and molecular science is very sensitive to shape changes. This means that future topologists will likely recognize a signature shape change pattern that vaccines and cells experience when they interface that may be repeating in other vaccinations. This will allow the biochemist, with the aid of a software program written by topologists, to greatly reduce the number of experiments necessary to find cures..

    Our satellites are presently exploring the ozone layer, pollutants that are not visible, weather patterns, and tsunami threats.

    I could drag this out further but don’t need to. Exploring the stars has made us explore ourselves.

  50. ijuin says:

    For those who say that the $17 billion that we spend on NASA per year is too much, what about the THIRTY TIMES AS MUCH that we spend on maintaining our ability to kill people? The military will receive over $630 billion this year.

  51. Ed says:

    Don’t even thing about outer space! We know zilch about inner space (our planet). Anything else just betrays some badly skewed priotities.

  52. M. Ahsan says:

    Space exploration is the journey of our planet’s own past and the future. BUT plz get rid of International Space Station. This is not helping reach us anywhere.

  53. Chuck Lam says:

    Forget the back-breaking national treasury expense of a deep-space trip for a moment. Mankind will mostly likely travel no further than Mars or to possibly one of Jupiter’s moons. However, all this could change if man uncovers some phenomenon that will actually allow space travel several times faster than the speed of light. Without the ability to travel beyond light speed, there simply will be very little government incentive to approve financing for a multigeneration trip with an unknown outcome to the nearest star system. I suspect the good in thinking and talking about deep-space travel is healthy mental exorcise.

  54. An Earth Defender says:

    I believe humans are one of the most fragile races of life in the universe. We are babys playing with dynamite. Our technology is so far behind compared to other life forms. Just think, it took us about 2000 years just to invent a silly, useless, ipod. The other life forms in the universe are already traveling through space and time faster than the speed of light. And we have not even walked or sent humans beyond our moon. And with all that ‘technology’ we are sending out into space, other life forms will find it and Earth and kill us. We are attracting too much attention in space. Bad, evil life forms will see us as dumb, useless life forms living on a VERY usefull planet. Someday, those lifeforms will take over earth, and exterminate humans. But we are already killing our selves and our planet. We have so much potential but we are not using our brains to create usefull technology that will save us when ‘doomsday’ will come. Think of all those cars emitting carbon dioxide every single day. People have created electric cars that would save our planet, but Bush and the oil industry won’t allow them to be sold to the public because they’re afraid they’ll lose money on oil. Money is just paper. Useless paper that will not save you when its the end of the world. We need technology, inventors, and most of all, we need to save our planet. Face it, our planet, Earth is dying. And it’s all because of us.

  55. Hailey says:

    We need The Doctor.

  56. Jenny Lee says:

    I think we should go on

  57. ZergFood says:

    Space Colonization = evil conquest
    Space Exploration = good

    Colonization and getting into space? Colonization of America anyone? Was it “good”? Good for WHO? For Europeans? What about the natives? Who are we to decide that we are more important? We have no prospered, but who are WE to decide that, on their homes? Maybe they had different views of prosperity.

    Think of it like this: What if a thief comes into YOUR home and claims that “taking” this home is “important in the long end, for him and his pals”. After all, he is the one important, right? Won’t you feel annoyed? What if he says that killing you is good for his family? Won’t you feel annoyed? Good cause that’s exactly what we are going to do once we colonize.

    I know you’re going to say that “no one actually says that we’ll colonize inhabited planets” — but I’M LOOKING AT REALITY. Our mentality is the same, fucked up, greedy and all that. We are selfish bastards. I am looking at reality, while people who claim the above are naive and think that we as a species are “good”. What makes you think humans will overlook an inhabited planet for profit and colonization and “how awesome” it is? Awesome? Good to know that it’s awesome for us to wipe out someone else. After all, LOOK AT EARTH. Look how many species we destroyed and continue to do so. Look how we practically RAPED the planet. Does THIS FREAKING species called homo sapiens need to expand FURTHER? Without a shift in mentality? Gimme a break. I’m objective.

    And no, I’m not naive enough to think that Space exploration will solve humanity’s mentality — greed, political power and whatever else that plagues us. What happens in Aliens (the movie)? We colonize a planet. Some aliens start eating us. We then say “Nuke the bastards!”. WHO THE HELL IS THE BASTARD HERE? Who is the one who invaded their homes? We should go and nuke ourselves, put us to jail.

    As someone said in a nice review of Starship Troopers (good movie that portrays humans as “colonists” even though in the movie, everyone cheers when humans kill 100 aliens):

    Here I quote part of the review:
    —————
    The Earth is at war with these creatures. They’re inhuman, vicious. This is graphically demonstrated through out the film but most notably via a propaganda website that the movie presents to us as a futuristic version of `Why We Fight’. At one point, a cow is lead into a pen holding one of these giant insects, which quickly cleaves the cow in two. We are horrified! These insects truly are barbaric, evil! Look what it did to that cow! They must be destroyed! (Yet how many of us had steak before seeing this movie?) Then the website narrator proudly states that people on Earth are doing their part in the war effort as we watch a woman and her children dump Earth bugs on the ground and stomp on them. These bugs are native to our planet. Like the American-Japanese in WWII, why are they getting picked on? How are the bug-stomping mother and her children any more humane and caring than the repulsive alien insects?

    The film is insanely violent. People are literally cut to pieces by the smaller creatures and slowly, painfully melted by a plasma the larger insects spray. However, the alien bugs fair no better. The people and cows getting hacked up relentlessly in this film horrify us but we cheer as machine rifles and grenades blow the giant insects apart. The body count is high on both sides. It is all literally and purposely utter, senseless violence. But then at one point a psychic uses his powers to read one of the alien’s emotions. He triumphantly yells, `It’s afraid!’ and a legion of human warriors jubilantly cheer at this pronouncement. Who’s barbaric here? What is humanity? These bugs are clearly not `human’ yet they are intelligent, advanced, and most importantly they have feelings. If they can be afraid, can they not also be sad, happy, in love? These are questions the writer has left to us to ask with out leading us by the hand through what could have been a much more preachy film.

    Considering the fact that, in his book _Stranger in a Strange Land_, Robert A. Heinlein–who wrote the novel upon which Starship Troopers was based–pointed out that there were millions of people already in America before the Europeans came and ruthlessly slaughtered these `subhumans’ on their new property, it is safe to say that there is a lot more going on in this film than a simple slug-fest. The dazzling special effects and heart pounding action are all just a distraction–like all the noise in real life–from the more important things said here. Even the trailer and commercials for this movie were purposely misleading with Blur’s delightfully mindless `Song #3′ blaring and the singer yelling `Whoo-hoo!’ as a stream of soldiers pour out of ships to go to battle. Every aspect of the film was one gigantic, satirical slap in the face of humanity and no one noticed.
    —————

    So with our RATIONAL thoughts of TODAY, let’s think. Are we evil species? Is colonization evil? You bet it is.

    Why is it good? Just because we are we? Are we so primitive to escape objective thought regarding the matter? Wake up people. Humans will always abuse. Colonization is a new opportunity for us to RAPE more planets, and EVENTUALLY, even invade inhabited homes.

    So we’re the SERIAL rapist set loose in the universe. Bad thing is, there’s no police that I’m aware of (of course aliens could be watching us at this time).

    If that’s the case I would surely expect and HOPE aliens to counter-attack our selfish species and wipe us out before we do more harm to the innocent.

  58. Simon Smith says:

    While in college, one of my social work professors, Dr. William Furness, taught me that it isn’t always either/or it is often both/and.

    The heavens declare the Glory or God.

  59. Michael Tomczyk says:

    We have always operated on the assumption that the Earth will “die” when the sun dies, which is so far into the distant future that the fossils of our bones probably won’t even exist by then. So why worry about going into space when we’ve got billions of years to worry about it? The answer is, we don’t have billions of years. We may only have 100 or 200 years. The combination of choking CO2 levels, global warming/greenhouse gases, population wars stemming from flooding and lack of water and food…all of these catastrophic events will make the Earth a lot more hostile than we expect. This will force us to colonize space and to do that we better get started NOW. There is another reason for exploring space. If we can survive in space, we can use the same technologies to survive on Earth. What we learn from going into space…or attempting to go there…will help us survive here on our home planet. So why explore space? My answer is…survival of the human race.

  60. timmy says:

    you are just wasting your lives, u will never ever go into space. If u think u are going then u a big fag stop trying u will never succeed. stupid juggling thunder cunts

  61. Beowulf2700 says:

    Well, i don’t know why Zergfood sayz that space colinization is bad.

    after all dinos werent a interplanetary species.

    lets face it, sooner or later were gona find that a big arse civilization killing rock that we can’t move/blow up is heading our way. and we would go colonize the moon or something else ASAP, And probably do a shoty job.
    Shouldnt we colinze and explore space NOW instead of later? Besides thats human nature, we explore becuse ITS THERE! People Explore by nature. It’s not enough just to send a robot to the moon or mars, we must go there ourselves. That inevitably leads to colinization.

  62. ernie says:

    well heck with all the stuff…… Curisoty is why we look and study space

  63. zen says:

    I think it is great to expand our horizons through exploration.I just wish we could get more “bang for our bucks”.The Russians seem to be the only space farer`s of late that seem to be making a profit off their program.How much did the new water purification system they flew up there cost us?It seems that NASA is giving us Yugo`s for Cadillac prices!

  64. zen says:

    Speaking of cost,
    Wasn`t it just a few years back that a private citizen built a space plane that made it into low orbit on a 70 million dollar budget?Imagine if that gentleman had a billion or two to play with! If I was in charge of NASA,the guy would be on my staff.

  65. zen says:

    Hey,
    Not only am I smart,but good looking and a great catch,so my mother tells me.But in reality,I`m dumb,ugly and the girls have been keeping their hands to themselves.As to my posts,the information is readily available if one chooses to investigate.

  66. zen says:

    And another thing,”cracking corn” is probably something to do with biofuels or making moonshine or some shit like that or maybe it has to do with cracking jokes of a nonsensical theme,or all of the above.

  67. Dan Walter says:

    ” Space exploration reveals that while there isn’t a divine link between the heavens and the earth, it is true that what happens up there can affect what happens down here. “~ Alun Salt – Archeoastronomy

    Space exploration does NOT disprove a divine link any more then weightlessness disproves gravity. Obviously there are “things” not seen or perceived by the filtering processes of the human brain. Since miracles are a reality we must assume there are more to the picture then we see.

  68. sanad says:

    What about building space station gradually ? Some for Solar System area, and then we can go farther building another stations for Milky Way area, and then build a giant station at the edge of our Galaxy. And then, build a step by step station to our nearest galaxy. Seems too bombastic ?

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