Starbucks in Space
November 19, 2012
The reason I titled this "Starbucks in Space" is to convey the pragmatic approach I think we need to take in expanding humanity beyond the Earth. I want to see lunar bases, space stations, colonies throughout the Solar System and really become a multiplanetary society as SpaceX president Elon Musk envisions. But to do that, we have to somehow convince the masses that going into Space is not just an expensive science project, but a real destination and solution. In a world of struggling economies, Space can provide literally infinite new markets, new resources for manufacturing, and innumerable jobs to build the massive structures needed to make Space habitable from domed cities to spaceships. With the startup companies now getting their feet wet with private/commercial launches, getting people up there is an important next step. But just flying into suborbit, while thrilling, is not enough.
There needs to be a place to go, a port of call, etc... To that end, I think a space station--much larger and more substantial than ISS, needs to be put in Earth orbit with commercial places to stop, shop, take in the view, etc.. Maybe even put such places as part of government stations throughout the Solar System at various waypoints. There is the "Starbucks in Space" part. We need places for the masses to go in Space that are as comfortable as on Earth. And technical challenges from atmosphere control to food processing--once overcome--could easily benefit people on Earth in addition to facilitating habitats in Space. Oh, and one more thing... I want to go NOW! Do you think you could use history majors/grad students like me in Space?
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.