Fans of Star Wars, Star Trek and other Sci-Fi books and films consider space the next frontier that mankind has yet to truly reach. Each historical frontier was considered (in its day) the ultimate “terra incognita”. Few forward thinkers tended to see beyond what seemed to be the ultimate challenge of man. Now we have more advanced technological frontiers like robotics, artificial intelligence, nano tech, and deep oceanography. Considering space travel as our final challenge ignores the realms of alternate universes, time travel, teleportation (“Beam me up Scotty!”) or other such tech, beyond what most of us consider possible. If those do prove to be impossible, we will, no doubt, make other discoveries that will be equally preposterous to earlier generations.
I grew up during the era when mankind took it’s first steps into space, when early ideas of science fiction were beginning to become reality. It was a thrilling time for me. I’ve been an avid follower of Sci-Fi, imagining endless possibilities for mankind’s adventures.
Decades passed, and everyone’s dreams of space travel and colonizing the moon, Mars and beyond seemed to fade. In its place were fears and concerns about budgets, famines, petty wars, terrorism, diseases, race, poverty and divisive politics. For some, the mantra became, “Why should we spend money and resources on going to space when we have starving people in third world countries, others dying of aids, dictators harboring weapons of mass destruction, using them on their own people, and other such tragedies?” They have contended, “Who in their right mind would want to continue pouring dollars and effort into space exploration in light of the myriad of problems here on Earth?”
I would, along with Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and many others not so well-known. In fact, much of the population of the United States currently favors nearby space exploration, but few want to actually colonize the moon or Mars. You can always count on some creative thinkers to boldly stride forward, but others may need a bit of inspiration. Those who are striving ahead are scattered across the globe. China and India are rapidly gaining ground on the United States in considering space a frontier worthy of conquering soon. Judging by current trends, much of the future of space exploration will probably fall into the hands of private companies, looking to profit from raw materials and tourism, rather than to nations with populations ready to commit to new goals.
If mankind mires itself in everyday problems without looking beyond the day-to-day, instead of reaching for the stars or other lofty goals, little room is left for hope in a positive or adventurous future. Past pioneers, breaking new ground, have always been a source of renewed invigoration and inspiration for the public as large. We each need to balance looking inward, upon current problems, with an outward view of life, and hopeful possibilities for the future. If not, man as a whole will surely introvert and stagnate. Conquering space could soon be the ultimate expression of man’s extroversion. The spirit of working together on new adventures is the remedy for mankind’s future destiny. I believe exploration beyond our speck of rock in the universe is not just desirous, but a human imperative.
Always and forever, we must boldly go where no man has gone before.