We want to know—and to share our Member's stories with the world as an advocate for space exploration on our new Infinite Visions, One Planetary Society web forum.
Although your vision of space is unique, the Society is the one place we all come together to create a vibrant future for space exploration. You help strengthen our voice as the world’s largest private space advocacy group, an international force in humankind’s drive to explore and discover!
This week's question from Planetary Society Board President Jim Bell:
What might the future be like without space exploration?
Here's how Planetary Society Members answered...
Click through to read the full submission and comment.
What do you want to see next in space exploration?
I would like to see the construction of bases on the Moon in which Humans can live. Also I would like to see a reasonable and obtainable plan revealed for a path for Humans to set foot on Mars within this century.
I believe manned deep space exploration will accelerate when our vehicles for getting to space advances from chemical to fusion thrust and using re-entry heat shielding that can work better than is presently available, in other words have manned spacecraft that operate like passenger airliners. I speculate those advances will be as important as was the changes from steam power to internal combustion in its day. Maybe within two centuries these spacecraft will be delivering immigrants to the Moon, because it is so close, and to Mars, because its surface is the most Earth-like of non-terrestrial destination in the solar ... more »
An enormous amount of effort is being expended on SETI - all based on the highly questionable notion that intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy is still relying on communication via electromagnetic radiation which can travel no faster than the speed of light. This is a preposterously slow method of communication for interstellar distances. In addition, there are many credible reports of unidentified flying objects all over the world and over a vast stretch of time which are being ignored. While some of these have been debunked, there are others that clearly indicate that robot craft, at least, are at ... more »
Dear Emily: Thanks so much for the opportunity to express a personal vision for our future in space. I’ve wanted to write these thoughts out for a long time it seems! I dream of mankind becoming a truly space-faring race. To do this we must become comfortable actually living long-term in space, not just visiting space briefly, only to scamper back to our gravity hole like a marmot scared by the big outdoors. I’d like to see more work done to develop space sustainability technology, both in terms of atmosphere and food sustainability. I think the Planetary Society can dream ... more »
I would like to see us build a space station that is in solar orbit with 3d printing technology on board. Transports from Mars and Earth and maybe even small asteroids could be attached to it and used as material for the 3d printers to make new pieces (and ever more advanced 3d printers) to keep building until the space station could have enough bio domes to support human life and someday, after many decades or even centuries of adding to it, have a bit of gravity of its own but still able to navigate through space if need arises.
I want to see us stretch out and continue to explore the many dramatic features around the solar system. From the seas of Titan to the slopes of Olympus Mons. Be it through traditional robotic machines, remote telepresence, or direct human presence, I want us to peer into it all, one way or another. But more than that, I want to get beyond the engineering of earth manufactured craft and probes, to a future where the industrial infrastructure driving it forward is operating in a self sustaining fashion beyond LEO. Where the materials and fuel that go into the craft ... more »
When I worked on the Apollo Project at Grumman Aircraft a memo was circulated in the summer of 1964 asking for suggestions for uses of Apollo hardware after the lunar landings were completed. I swiped a couple minutes on the IBM 7094 and wrote a proposal for landing on a Near Earth Asteroid. Grumman liked the idea enough to forward it to NASA. Months later I heard NASA turned it down, as in those days only eight NEAs were known, and passes close enough for a reasonable chance at landing were rare. Also, NASA felt the entire thing was marginal. ... more »
Like a lot of people, my first inspiring moment was the moon landing in 1969. I vividly recall sitting on our living room floor, watching the flickering black and white TV screen - a man was walking on the moon!! Well, I was hooked, but I have to credit "Cosmos" by Carl Sagan for opening my eyes to the size and wonder of the universe, and the possibility of life elsewhere. I look at Earth, all the wonderful diversity of life and can't help but wonder what we may find among the stars. I hope to live long enough to ... more »
I would like to see off-world mineral exploration take off. It should presede any mining plans on our Moon, all planets or asteroids. My interests are in the off-world mineral exploraton systems necessary to drive the birth of this industry. All other missions beyond will receive diminishing funds, or charity in future years. Someone paying up front will expect tangible returns.
In a way, my vision is to help everyone else achieve their visions. (As you can see from the letter pictured, I've been working on these concepts for quite a while.)
I would like to share technology, resources and project opportunities with The Planetary Society, NASA and space businesses(such as Elon Musk's company, Space-X), to save and generate, $1 Trillion dollars of funding in 10 years. This is equivalent to over 50 years worth of NASA's current yearly budget.
This forum highlights some difficult choices... Moon or Mars, Human or Robotic, this decade or... someday. The choices are difficult because of the ... more »
When I was a child, science fiction made me believe we would live an explore the space in the near future. Then I grew up and figured out it was not easy. I started to think that there were more important things here on Earth to solve before investing on going up there. But then I discovered Carl Sagan Cosmos series and also I read a speech from Stephen Hawking for the 50th anniversary of NASA that convinced me that it was important to keep this exploration alive. I decided to join the Planetary Society after reading a Pale Bule ... more »
My interest in astronomy and space had its beginnings with shows on tv like Walt Disneys visions on what space ships would be like. Werner Vonbran appeared on several of the programs. I eventually got an Edmund Scientific Astroscan telescope as a teenager.
As someone who grew up during the space race, I was captivated by the launchings and the eventually landings upon the moon. I can remember sitting in front of our old television set and being captivated by the sight of the Saturn V5. The excitement of seeing the lunar module land upon the moon was great; I think it inspired many in my generation to look up and believe.
My passion for space began when I began to understand it's vastness; when I realized that the light I was seeing in the stars may have left that star before I was born. The passion was increased by reading books and listening to lectures about the origin and evolution of the universe and knowing we are made of star stuff.
I grew up in a big city where, even back in the '50s, there weren't too many stars visible at night. When I was about 8 years old, I went to my uncle's cottage in northern Ontario having never seen a night sky with stars and galaxies you could actually see. The truly amazing thing was it was so dark that you literally could not see your hand in front of your face but all of the wonders of space appeared to be close enough to touch them. I was hooked!
Dear Dr. Tyson: My assent to the universe, while different from yours, was truly an assent followed by a maddening plunge into the psychosis of the micro-world. The lure oscillated around me with an ever increasing determination until my lust for the answers is rotating faster than the fastest millisecond pulsar in 47 Tucanae. However, my plunge into universal insanity was gradual, beginning many decades ago. I remember it well, in my brief moments of lucidness today. It started one rather ordinary day. The sky was mostly overcast on that dreary autumn afternoon, while the “hawk” whipped strongly amid the ... more »
The first memory of space that I have is being carried in my Dad's arms late one clear night, and looking up at a sky full of stars. The sky seemed very deep. Not long after, I became aware of a lot of TV news coverage of rockets to the moon. I was two years old at the time, and the artist depictions of the future landing confused me. Because I lacked the vocabulary, I found it difficult to ask my Dad if anyone had landed on the moon yet. But eventually I found that we had not yet landed ... more »
I first was attracted to the sky by an uncle pointing to what was probably Venus one evening when I was four years old. It inspired me to coerce family members to read about astronomy to me. I also learned to read by looking over their shoulders. Once I had a library card I read every astronomy book my local library offered. When these ran out, a friendly librarian suggested I might enjoy Robert Heinlein's book bold text Rocketship Galileo bold text. My fate was sealed. In college I studied astronomy, was hired to work on the Apollo Project after ... more »
Fifty-five years ago, Heinlein made me want to be a Space Cadet. Clarke made me want to visit one of the Islands in the sky. Asimov made me want to explore the worlds of the Foundation. And Andre Norton made me want to be the navigator on the tramp freighter Solar Queen. A few months ago, a freighter docked at the International Space Station. My call sign in the freighter's control center was "NAV2." Sometimes dreams do come true.
Walt Disney’s series “Tomorrowland” (now on youTube) featuring Werner von Braun explaining how to build a space station and send explorers to the Moon and to Mars probably started my interest in the new frontier. His Mars vehicles were nuclear powered and electrically propelled. During the mercury program, a neighbor, Dr. Carl Clark, worked at the nearby Naval Air Development Center on solving the problem of protecting the mercury astronauts from the extreme g forces that they would experience from reentry deceleration. NADC had a human centrifuge on which some of the mercury astronauts were trained. Dr. Clark explained the ... more »
We are born explorers. As infants we first learn to use our senses -- vision, hearing, touch, taste -- to learn about the nature of the world around us. And then -- gloriously! -- as toddlers we add mobility and can finally rove around and explore not just what is within our vision, but also the unknown across the room, or around the corner. It turns out that that urge to explore never leaves us as we continue to grow, as individuals, and as a civilization. Nowadays our fascination with the unknown compels us to explore not just the world around us, but the limitless frontiers of distant planets, stars, and galaxies.
While the cost of getting to Mars is enormous for the size and scope for 4, 6, 8 or 10 member crews and supplies,etc. Why not a single person launched at higher speed whose mission is to land for a period of time and then return. If the craft can be sufficiently small, the speeds can be much higher and the decent/ascent can be possible with a small craft done quickly. Is this possible without going 9 months to two years waiting for the Earth/Mars sync?
In addition to searching for FORMER life on a desert planet like Mars, I'd like to see some robot missions to places where there is a greater probability of EXISTING life forms. It appears that Jupiter's moon Europa has an ocean of liquid water...beneath a frozen layer. There may be other moons in our Solar system with environments that may harbor EXISTING life forms. Let's go to these places!!!
As an only child I had to create my own vision and interests. When young I read science fiction extensively. That shaped my ideas about what the future might be, as well as just being downright exciting and entertaining. I extended my interests into the fields of science and mathematics. Ultimately this lead to my doing very well in high school and graduating with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, a birthing ground for many astronauts. My entire working career was in the aerospace industry following the passions that began with those science fiction stories. If this nation ... more »
Preamble to my book: The Future of US Rocketry We have been here since the beginning of time. Just recently, through some magnificent trick of entropy, we have taken the form of sentient beings - for the blink of an eye, as time goes. Born into a chorus of living things,we are thoughtful, caring, communicative, inventive, adventurous, capable of stupendous deeds. How sad, if in the course of events, humanity opts to hunker down, passing up a signal opportunity to expand beyond Earth's boundaries. Entropy rules. One by one we return to matter, where we will remain 'til the end ... more »
In response to Jim Bell's email, 05 December 2012, asking: " What might the future be like without space exploration? ", I offer the following - - Space exploration in general, and NASA's contribution in particular represent to me the flowering of human scientific and engineering achievement. Returning to a world without the work of NASA, ESA, etc. would be the equivalent of returning to the "Dark Ages". I have been a "fan" of space exploration since the mid 1940's when many possibilities were presented in various magazines and books. Unfortunately, at my age (78, and counting) it is unlikely ... more »
Human history and natural history both tell us these things about exploration: (1) If you explore, you find things, and if you don't explore, things find you; (2) It is better to find than to be found. Just look at the fate of any of the civilizations that were "found" by European explorers in the 15th century. From a more modern perspective, every year medical researchers try to find a vaccine for the latests flu virus before the flu virus finds us. paragraph So even if there is no alien species out there ready to "find" us, there are hundreds ... more »
Honestly, it wouldn't be too different than today, at first. We, as a species, tend to live our lives on a day-to-day basis, and thus our vision for our future is limited to the end of each day. As a result, we usually go through our lives, without having done anything except lived, and maybe raised a family. So, for most of us, it would be no different. At first. Then as time goes on, and population increased, and resources eventually become used up, then the future would surely be different. Each day might be a trial in order to ... more »
With The USA dropping all pretense of human space travel, the People's Republic of China landed two dozen of its citizens on the Moon in 2024, where they proclaimed the Lunar People's Socialist Republic, demanded membership in the United Nations, and quoted the two century old Monroe Doctrine in closing space to all who lacked their permission. The Russian Federation soon reinstated its Communist Party under Chinese pressure, and twenty three of the then twenty eight NATO nations renounced NATO and signed a renewed Warsaw Pact. When the USA defaulted on its debt, China offered to cover the debt in ... more »
Without space exploration, we simply won't have a future, either in terms of pure, creative and technological innovation or even in terms of the ecological health of Earth itself. Without an effort to explore and understand our shared reality beyond ourselves, we will deserve any catastrophe that befalls upon us, rather than creatively avoid it to our advantage. Exploring our furthest boundaries is an inherently human trait, and if we abandon this instinct we will quickly lose even the luxury of our false comfort in complacency. Ultimately, our identity as a species will be characterized by our apathy and insignificance ... more »
Every scientist at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences had his or her own vision for what should come next in the exploration of our solar system and beyond. Here are a few of those visions.
What might the future be like without space exploration?