The human space imperative

We have a strong, if mythic, assumption that humans will move into space and, eventually, hop through wormholes from galaxy to galaxy. That whole notion may evaporate if we dismantle the space station and end the practice of sending humans into space. MIT Technology Review discusses “The Future of Human Spaceflight”:

Over the years, NASA and space advocates have put forward many reasons to justify sending astronauts into space. They have garnered support by offering something for everybody, especially the military and scientific communities; scientific progress, strategic superiority, and international prestige have been foremost among the promised benefits. On closer inspection, though, these justifications don’t hold up or are no longer relevant. For example, robotic missions are increasingly capable of scientific work in space, and they cost far less than human crews. Satellites launched on expendable boosters allowed the United States to achieve strategic dominance in space. And Cold War motives disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The article goes on to discuss how humans might continue to build into space, leveraging in-space refueling to reduce costs. I’ve tended to think that private commercial efforts will find innovative ways to make space travel workable and affordable. The vision is so strong with us now, via television and film (Star Trek, Firefly, Star Wars, Avatar, Spaceballs, etc.), that it seems unlikely we’ll put human space travel aside.

Author: Jon Lebkowsky

Co-wrangler of Plutopia News Network, cohost Radio Free Plutopia. Podcaster, writer, dharma observer, enzyme. Former editor/publisher, FringeWare Review; associate editor at bOING bOING and Factsheet Five; writer at Mondo 2000, 21C, Wired, Whole Earth Review, Austin Chronicle; sub-editor at Millennium Whole Earth Catalog; blogger at Worldchanging. Digital culture maven, podcaster, writer, dharma observer, enzyme. On The WELL, Cohost of VC (virtual communities), Media, and Civil War (.ind) conferences.

One thought on “The human space imperative”

  1. Interesting that this post was titled The Human Space “Imperative”.

    Perhaps we humans have a biological need – which stems for our hunter-gatherer origins, to travel as much and as far as we can, even if it is not practical economically or otherwise.

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