Many people, youth especially, don’t see space exploration as anything worthwhile, focusing instead on shortsighted and useless worries.
By Felix Balak
Ever Since John F. Kennedy promised to put a man on the moon before the end of the 1960’s; Humanity’s eyes have been on the sky. When Neil Armstrong made his legendary ‘leap for mankind’, our eyes were glued to our televisions. When Curiosity made its harrowing journey through the thin Martian atmosphere, people the world over held their breaths. However, few people even watched when Chang’e 3 landed on the Moon in 2013 the first time since the retirement of the Soviet Luna Program in the early seventies. This fact is representative of a dangerous insular type of thought that is pervasive in Western Society. Space exploration could solve all of our problems; we simply have to drag our gaze from our navels to the stars. By ignoring the benefits of space travel, we stifle scientific and economic progress, reducing all aspects of American and even human advancement and superiority by hiding our collective heads in the sand.
The solar system is relatively well-known. Astronomers can predict with unerring accuracy the orbits of the planets and their moons. All mankind needs to do now is use that knowledge. Men and women have written magnificent, epic sagas of space travel in our fiction, but governments across the planet neglect using our technology to achieve them. A fraction of the cost of the wars in the Middle East could pay for a Lunar Base in a very small amount of time! This comparatively minute slice of the national budget is continually rejected for ‘more important issues’, such as the acquisition of crude oil. While the economic concern is a valid one, there are massive stores of Helium-3 within the lunar regolith, which could be used for nuclear fission. Already in 2008, David Livingston, a proponent of space exploration, argued that “Space Exploration is … how we build a better life … on Earth”, and he is ultimately correct, because most wars on Earth today are, at their core, primarily about resources. If humanity had the will to act in the interest of not only our people, but also our planet, it would spare no expense in funding and realizing lunar mining.
It isn’t science-fiction anymore, yet the average person sees it as an unrealistic and unfeasible pipe-dream, and the public-opinion oriented politicians focus on their own goals, and ignore the plight of those who need the resources and technology that the moon and other celestial bodies would yield, despite the immense stockpiles that could be harmlessly exploited for human gain.
In 1974, the globalist Michael Collins sought to express his opinion that the Earth must unite, and that from a hundred thousand miles, leaders of government would not see borders, or even continents. Collins believed that from the ground, the human mind could comprehend only to the horizon; that it took being one hundred thousand miles out to fully grasp the consequences of their actions; that the “…view from 100,000 miles could … [get] people working together,” Collins said that the people who needed this worldview were sitting in their tiny capital cities, planning to end the world at the press of a button. He also argued that the planet must be the focus of human comprehension and ambition. He desired a frame-shift from short-term gain to long term benefit. Obviously this change did not happen in the 1970’s, or even later. Not yet. This change in mindset is not beyond humanity, it simply requires political, ecological and economic fields working together to create something new, which is the focus of the globalist perspective.
A national hero in the field of astrophysics, Neil Degrasse Tyson wrote in Parade Magazine that “In America, contrary to our self-image, we are no longer leaders but simply players. We’ve moved backward just by standing still.” Tyson stated that American scientific curiosity and superiority has waned since the end of the Apollo program. Even setting aside nationalist sentiment, the United States cannot afford to ignore what lies beyond our atmosphere. Scientific advancement can only do so much on our surface, and access to laboratories and microgravity on space stations has lead to incredible and advanced materials science, leading to discoveries such as Teflon, microwaves, cordless vacuums, and solar power, and many other everyday technologies. Tyson’s perspective is that of a scientist, who seeks to instill a love of science in his fellow Americans.
Many people, youth especially, don’t see space exploration as anything worthwhile, focusing instead on shortsighted and useless worries. Yet science is how humanity makes itself distinct from animals, and ignoring the benefits provided by the immense knowledge collected, only to instead look at comparatively minute issues, or ones solved by space exploration itself, is absolute folly. Instead of focusing on such problems as lack of resources, we must simply look to the telescopes. If humanity can work together, even if only slightly more than now, there is a good chance that mankind will advance to never-before seen heights, of science, economy, and stability.
Felix is currently a junior at Winter Park High School.