Is space travel something we should embrace?
Another Reminder of Possibilities
Recently, new information regarding Pluto was released. According to these new discoveries, more knowledge of the planet’s climate has been uncovered, providing more data for scientists as well as fuel for those believing of interstellar/interplanetary travel. In recent films, like Interstellar (2014) and The Martian (2015), we’ve seen humans of the near future travel to different planets. With the Orion project underway, NASA’s project to put Astronauts on Mars, is continually becoming more of a realistic possibility than ever before, and putting a man on another planet is something our generation may very well witness.
We are Pioneers
Much of our country’s heritage comes from the idea of early pioneers boldly pressing on and blazing trails through rugged wilderness. Men like Lewis and Clark, Daniel Boone, and Hugh Glass, recently highlighted in the film the Revenant (2016), are hailed as heroes and victors. These early Americans carved a living out of a wild and dangerous land, going further than any others from western civilization had ever dared to venture. Though praised by some and ridiculed by others, these explorers laid a foundation for a county. Now, I’m not implying humans are going to undergo a mass exodus and move to another system in our galaxy; man’s search for undiscovered land, for unseen sights, and a new horizon is simply a part of our history and is engrained into our culture. We are pioneers; it’s in our blood.
I’m sure that these early colonists and pioneers of a bygone era once looked out at an unexplored world with both fearful apprehension as well as unquenchable curiosity and determination. The astronauts who went further than people had ever gone also must have shared similar sentiments; a seemingly endless void, filled with numerous challenges and dangers is undoubtedly daunting. However, as John F. Kennedy said, space is the “New Frontier;” if we set to exploring it just as our ancestors plucked up their courage and ventured to North America, then we may very well be prepared to brave the uncertainty and danger of interstellar travel.
Realistic Possibilities and Challenges
Such possibilities of exploration sit in the path of our civilization’s advancement, ripe for the taking. In a NASA article titled “Colonizing the Moon?” expert in geology and astronomy, Darby Dyar, discusses the possibility the article’s title alludes to and the difficulties lunar settlers would inevitably face, particularly in regards to a lack of water. “The moon is a dry place… it’s difficult to imagine living on it.” However, Dyar also states that “[We] will establish some kind of permanent station on the moon.”
Additionally, the process of traveling to the moon, and even Mars, isn’t as easy as getting in a rocket and buckling down for a few weeks. Space is a tough, unforgiving environment that makes for uncomfortable and even haphazard living. According to research, traveling through space causes a plethora of side effects for astronauts, including nausea, sickness and even bouts of depression. Scientists are grappling with methods to keep astronauts fit during the trip, and though much progress has been made, there is still much to learn in regards to having “healthy” space travel.
I think many share the sentiments of Dyar and despite the fact that there will always be skeptics, I think numerous individuals would be optimistically willing to believe and hope in the success of such missions to outer-space.
Shall We Go Forth?
We cannot escape the fact that somewhere down deep, we are still pioneers and explorers. We already have, and thus can, land a man on another world. Just as many of those in medieval Europe said that there was no land across the ocean, and how before 1969, many believed it impossible for a man to walk on the moon, there will always be doubters. However, at this point, we are diving into a new ocean that we’ve already sailed in; it’s a new world of discoveries we know we can access.
Though it will push explorers to their limits both mentally and physically, such hindrances have not halted those in the past. The reality that individuals may very well perish in deep space or take a one way trip to planets elsewhere is a realistic possibility that we have begun to, and must fully come to grips with. America became fully aware of this reality when the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after its launch in 1986, and again in 2003, when space shuttle Columbia burned apart and broke into pieces on re-entry into the atmosphere. However, the accomplishments of humanity have never come without risk, and though the loss of human life is a travesty, it is simply part of exploration.
At Kennedy Space Center, a large monument sits ominously with the names of those who gave their lives in the spirit of space exploration etched into a stone slab; however it is the large surface of it that is still left untouched, where plenty of blank space remains for even more names, that reminds visitors that there will always be sacrifices and loss as long as man continues to go into space.
Earth is like no other planet. Here, God has given humans everything they need to live and thrive. We have the privilege of abiding where the raw beauty and splendor of nature greet us daily. However, I also believe that God gave us a curiosity and drive that pushes some to go further; it’s the yearning to see over the next hill, or to go around the next bend of a river. We can’t escape it and I believe that as long as we can still look into the heavens, that we will be moved to go despite both the challenges to be overcome and sacrifice required to do so.
Philip is a staff writer for the Daily Runner.