A different perspective

It is long past time that we change our view of space exploration.  Historically, space exploration has been viewed as scientific research, little different than looking through a telescope.  What was being learned was thought to have little or nothing to do with our everyday lives, and would never be more than abstract knowledge.  Perhaps this point of view is partly the result of the failure of American politicians to identify any long-term goals in outer space.  The primary justification for spending money on space exploration since the Russians launched the first satellite has been the need to maintain scientific superiority over the Russians.  Never has any mention been made of opening up new frontiers for the extraction of resources and energy, it has always been about science.

This perception has made cutting funding for space exploration easy, because science rarely, if ever, has any immediate impact on our lives.  Politicians do not view reducing space exploration funding as limiting or threatening our potential, it is only about cutting back on the science that we are conducting.  No one thinks of space exploration like they do of building roads or bridges, because they don’t think of space as somewhere real. Certainly, we have learned many wonderful things by going out into space, but it has nothing to do with our everyday lives, most people think.  They still visualize the Earth as being inside a bottle, complete unto itself, isolated from everything else, limitless.  They may intellectually acknowledge that the Earth is not endless, but their everyday experiences reinforce that point of view, just as it is difficult to imagine the Earth as a globe, not a flat plain.

The perception that the Earth goes on and on forever makes it difficult to comprehend the idea that Man can have any effect upon it.  Only when the average person pictures the Earth as a tiny sphere floating in space will people understand the importance of protecting our environment.  Only when we view off-planet exploration as the opening up of resources beyond those on Earth will space exploration be given proper funding.  Only when we view space as an alternative to our own environment for industrial operations will we have a hope of surviving our own greed.

It is all a matter of perspective.


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