Focus Friday: The necessity of space travel
The United Arab Emirates announced it’s planning to have a colony on Mars by 2177. Along with that, there are rumors that the NASA is restarting astronaut moon training. The question for this week is: How important is space exploration? Is it a necessity?
Space exploration is vital to our survival as a species. It’s not difficult to see that we are using up and dirtying our planet at an unsustainable rate. Space is our only answer. It is only a matter of time before we begin to have to seriously consider it as a living option. I once heard, “space is like Nebraska. It’s desolate and not many people live there, but people still find a way.”
Furthermore, space is the one endeavor that the human race can agree to partake in as a species instead of by country. Whether or not that lasts in the next one hundred years as space flight and travel become cheaper remains to be seen. But it is vital to hold onto that agreement.
Space Exploration has globally coincided with the scientific boom that led to the creation of smartphones, televisions, internet and computers. While these attempts to colonize or explore outer space may not give immediate returns, this type of scientific inquiry allows mankind to materially prosper as these technologies can be used to improve the quality of life for all people.
The problem arises as nations fail to address problems that mankind has caused on Earth. Our hopes to colonize Mars or other planets seems a bit of a cop out for the problems we have on our own planet. The UAE vision to create a peaceful outer colony, while intentionally admirable, fails to address deeper problems within the context of nation states. The United States’ attempts to train astronauts for moon landings may reveal nostalgic hopes rather than an intent to progress further into scientific space exploration.
Let us remember that science is a tool to understand reality and to progress humanity. It should not be used to escape deeper problems that humankind is plaguing itself with. The deeper issue remains that scientific exploration and advancement must be a higher priority in our education and our political discourse as these pursuits lead to the betterment of the people.
Space makes people believe in the future. The reason that we have had such a great current investment in technology — computers, cell phones, etc. — is because children saw Neil Armstrong walking on the room. They saw a shuttle blasting into the stars. They believed that there was something more.
Exploring space is probably the most important thing we can do as humans. It makes us believe in something more. Though UAE’s plan is far off and far-fetched — for now — it is extremely important. This plan makes us imagine; it makes us work harder to accomplish this unattainable goal. No one ever thought humans could “touch the stars.”
I may be somewhat biased, since I grew up near NASA, but there is an inherent need to touch the stars again. Children need a reason to believe in the future again. Space fills that need.