First and foremost, we must foster cooperative relationships with other countries to further our goals. No one country can possibly provide for all our wants and needs. We need to build a base of operations off planet. Lifting equipmet from the gravity well of the Earth is a huge unneeded expense. Space will provide all the raw materials that are required for further exploration. In addition we will be building based on microgravity, real world if you will - recall the mirror issue with Hubble. In addition, the probes we make would not need to be made to withstand the forces due to liftoff from Earth (6 Gs?) more fragile probes, perhaps. lighter and more bang for the buck as far as energy needed to move them through space, definatly! A perminant base needs to be established on the moon. The moon has sufficient gravity that it would be ideal for hydroponic farming. Solar cell technology is now sufficient to build underground facilities to protect from radiatioin CMEs etc. This facility can also store water, vital for our future. NEOs need to be mined. Threats to the Earth can be minimized by changing the mass of the objects and let gravity change the trajectory. This also provides us with many raw materials: water, Carbon Dioxide, Iron etc. Exploration here on Earth has revealed extremophyles so the search for life ix almost assured. But we must have a base from which to work from. One last point. Research into Carbon must be one of our top priorities. Creation of nanotubes, carbon based computers, the list is endless for this material. Who knows, perhaps even a living probe to explore our universe.
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