The future of our species, if we have one at all, will be beyond the pale blue sky we see every day. To make that possibility a reality, there is much work, research, and development ahead. Those who seize the chance to do that work now will prosper in ways we can only begin to imagine.
Survival – Man-made or natural disasters still threaten our existence. A large stray space rock, a shaky finger on a nuclear arsenal, or any number of cataclysmic events could doom our species to extinction. Colonizing other worlds would allow us to escape that fate.
Expansion – One of our basic human impulses is to expand. We have expanded about as far as we can on Earth, the only ways to continue expanding is down into the crust or out into space. The challenge of moving out into the vastness of space is in part, its own reward. Conquering that challenge will also provide tangible benefits to everyone on Earth.
Resources – Our resources on Earth are finite, our planet only contains so many chemical, mineral and biological resources. When those resources are exhausted, the civilization they support will inevitably collapse. We can only expect sustainable growth by tapping the infinite resources space has to offer. Two American based companies, Planetary Resources, and Deep Space Industries are leading a growing field of international private companies who are already tackling the technical and legal aspects of mining asteroids and near-Earth objects.
Research and Development – To achieve any lasting presence in space we need better ways to do things. We must address practical techniques for resource extraction, reliable communications over longer distances than ever before, command and control functions, crew safety and environmental controls. We must find solutions to all this and more before large-scale industrial applications can become a reality.
Technology – The space race spurred a new age of technological growth, far beyond the direct applications developed for space travel. More research into longer duration space travel will do the same today. Pushing the boundaries of existing and emerging technologies will have benefits on Earth that we can scarcely imagine right now.
Colonization – Humans face a number of challenges in colonizing Mars or the moon. Radiation shielding, low or zero gravity and sustainable habitation are all technical hurdles we need to overcome to settle anywhere beyond our home world.
Exploration – Some of the greatest moments in human history embraced exploration of the unknown. Sailing to the New World, circumnavigating the globe, or boldly going where no one has gone before have thrilled our species for millennia. Losing that sense of discovery diminishes us as a people.
Economics – The practical implications of harvesting materials from space to improve conditions on Earth, or sustain a new habitat on another world are no small consideration. Precious metals, unrefined construction materials and the raw materials for life are all abundantly available and almost within reach right here in our solar system. The people who find a way to bring those materials to market will change the future of our species forever.
The future is now – read, research, and spread the word!