From the Cradle of Humanity to Striding Among the Stars
Having been born in 1961 I remember watching all the Apollo missions (with Walter Cronkite)when I saw Neil Armstrong step foot on the Moon I thought we, as a species, were on our way to the stars. Since then I witnessed public support vanish and Apollo was cancelled; the Space Shuttle was built with no place to go and finally when the ISS was on the verge of completion our only ride was relegated to museums. We did not even have a replacement ready to assume the burden of transportation of American personnel and cargo to the ISS and beyond. 1. The capability of placing robotic &/or manned space vehicles in deep space for "planetary defense" for interception and deflection an asteroid, on a collision course with Earth, should be a primary goal of the international community. 2. The clearance of near Earth space of debris is not only of paramount importance to the space faring nations (and all peoples)of Earth but could potentially be another avenue where commercialization of space could be realized. This task could be a catylist in commercializing near Earth space capabilities and the beginings of a cis-lunar economic infra-structure. 3. The development and placement of Solar Collectors at lagrange points and the beaming of clean energy to Earth is another potential way to both comercialize near Earth space and develope infra-structure and expanded space capabilities. These large scale solar collectors could theoretically serve a dual purpose in the "battle" against global warming. They could be positioned to block the sun and help regulate temperatures. 4. Talk about decommissiong the ISS sounds like a colossal waste. Why can't it be refurbished and used as a construction base for the building of ISS II with both micro gravity and a rotating portion for living quarters? When ISS II is completed ISS could be pushed into a lunar orbit as a staging area for the development of a manned lunar presence. 5. The development of on-site exploitation of lunar resources for fuel and oxygen, robotically, initially could prepare a lunar base for occupation with miminal human presence. The lower gravity of the Moon could lead to the utilization of magnetic rail accelerator to launch payloads into space to be intercepted by space-tugs. 6. The commercialization of cis-lunar space and the normalization of space launch operations along the lines of today's airline operations should be a near term primary goal. 7. Research in the materials needed and construction techniques for the building of a "space elevator" is an avenue to be explored also. 8. The exploration of the Jupiter system of moons and particularly the "under ice oceans" of Europa and Saturns moon Titan are particularly exciting from both a scientific and meta-physical perspective. Could life exist? If so, then we truly are NOT alone. 9. The expansion of the Space Frontier to the surface of Mars poses particularly interesting problems; logistically and medically. The use of robotic construction workers to build surface infra-structure prior to the arrival of human explorers could be practiced on the moon first (see # 5, above) and then applied to the utilization Martian resources. An orbiting facility using these same techniques could be constructed on Phobos or Demos. The exporation of Mars and its settlement would be a massive under-taking. We must learn to "live off the land" in order for it to work on a permanent basis. Buzz Aldrin's model of the Earth Mars "bus service" sounds workable. 10. Tourism and the reduction of the price of launch services to levels affordable by people with modest means must also be a priority. Hotels and casinos in orbit could initially provide a "vacation venue" for the "rich & famous" and as these operations become more common place nad the costs go down eventually these "destinations" will become available for us average people. I can think of many more applications for the development and exploration of space but this is not the place or time. These thoughts are just to start the conversation and even though they are numbered there is no particular order in which I beleive things should develope; I just want to be part of a space faring civilization that looks outward; where are reach exceeds our grasp as a species. Ad Astra!
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