We must colonize space to survive and grow

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

I would like you to ponder the following quotations from some famous people who where active in the space movement during the formative years of my adolescence. Even through my adult years they continued to hammer home to me an important message: We must explore and colonize space in order to survive and grow.

“Since, in the long run, every planetary civilization will be endangered by impacts from space, every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring–not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive… If our long-term survival is at stake, we have a basic responsibility to our species to venture to other worlds.” Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

“The fatalism of the limits-to-growth alternative is reasonable only if one ignores all the resources beyond our atmosphere, resources thousands of times greater than we could ever obtain from our beleaguered Earth. As expressed very beautifully in the language of House Concurrent Resolution 451, ‘This tiny Earth is not humanity’s prison, is not a closed and dwindling resource, but is in fact only part of a vast system rich in opportunities…'” Gerard O’Neill, testimony before a congressional committee, 1978

“Men go into space … to see whether it is the kind of place where other men, and their families and their children, can eventually follow them. A disturbingly high proportion of the intelligent young are discontented because they find the life before them intolerably confining. The moon offers a new frontier. It is as simple and splendid as that.” Editorial on the moon landing, The Economist, 1969

“I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars.” Stephen Hawking, interview with Daily Telegraph, 2001

There are some very real and tangible economic reasons why the human species must continue to explore and colonize space. At the 44th Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium presidential science advisor John Marburger made a powerful and profound policy statement on why we must explore and develop the space frontier. In his keynote address Marburger stated empathically and concisely one of the most important priorities of NASA’s current space vision.

“As I see it, questions about the vision boil down to whether we want to incorporate the solar system in our economic sphere, or not.”

A crucial first step in that direction is to embark and initiate a program towards the economic development of cis-lunar space by returning to the Moon. We should focus our efforts towards mining the sky, defending the Earth; utilizing space based solar power and the settlement of near earth space. Only such an agenda can guarantee our long term survival on this planet and a permanent human presence in space which is economical sustainable and politically justifiable. I would like to direct your attention to the following articles by the Space Study Institute’s director Dr. Lee Valentine and the late by Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill (author of The High Frontier). Their vision provides the roadmap towards creating such a program.

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