Why space?

Why space?

*************OPEN THE FRONTIER*************

Why space?

Message 3 of the Frontier Files

c 1995, Rick N. Tumlinson / Space Frontier Foundation

You’ve already received two brief messages defining who we are and our strong views on advancing the exploration of space. This message is the first in a series of Space Frontier Foundation essays designed to inform the internet public about the incredible possibilities awaiting us in space.

“Why space?”

When asked this question, some might answer with the traditional “Because it’s there.” Fine for a mountain; insufficient for a frontier. There are as many reasons to open the Space Frontier as there will be humans to go there — and if history is our guide, that number will be large.

In the next few messages we will examine a few of these possible reasons. But the real reason, the one necessary and sufficient reason we are called to the Space Frontier, is buried deep within us. It is a feeling, a knowing in our hearts when we look starward on a clear night. The same feeling that some of our earliest ancestors had as they looked across a new valley, or stood upon the shores of oceans. First fear, then curiosity, and then, for some, a calling. A calling to go, to see, to do, to be “there.”

We believe Homo Sapiens is a frontier creature. It is what we do, it defines what we are. This has been true from our very beginnings. Our progenitors wandered out of the first primordial valleys in search of more room, better hunting, or more fertile soil. They left home to escape the dominance of this or that tribal bully, or faced with over crowding, to find a place of their own. Each time this migration occurred, far more stayed and endured than sought the new, but it was the seekers who changed the world.

Each time pioneers expanded into new realms they discovered the old ways wouldn’t work. Whenever a new domain was inhabited by humans old survival patterns were left behind, and new patterns created. History has repeatedly shown that these changes in behavior, technology and culture were necessary for the society as a whole to remain vital. As the new frontier communities grew, new social systems formed, systems more in tune with the fact that it was the individual who had to make the decisions and do the work of pioneering. New ways of perceiving the human condition and the universe we live in were born.

We choose this ancient path. In space we will continue to redefine ourselves, as hundreds, then thousands, then millions of us take their places at the edge of the human realm. The value of what it means to be human will grow, in part through facing the inevitable hardships. Life’s worth will be the soul of such societies and the measure of a person will be what they can carve out of the frontier for themselves and their families.

Many are saying it is time to lower expectations for the future in general, and space in particular. But we believe a whole new class of optimism and expectation can be created. A child on Earth, previously forced to look to sports figures, flamboyant criminals and entertainers for their self-image will find new heroes to emulate. Our society’s youth will grow up knowing that tomorrow can be better, that there are alternatives for the future, that there are living, breathing humans of all colors and creeds out there in the sky, building new worlds.

Your first homework assignment in this curriculum is to find a starry night, or a night when the Moon is bright, and show it to a child. Or, if you prefer, let yourself become a child for a few moments: wonder. Then ask yourself where the future lies.

*************OPEN THE FRONTIER*************