The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.-Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
The words of Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise have been forever engained in my mind, “Space, the final frontier. These are the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise…” The Star Trek series enlightenend me beyond belief, and gave me a new outlook on life that to this day enables me to envision a better future for myself and the world.
Many ask, “why space exploration?” There is a need for space exploration far greater than any can imagine. Some of the most important inventions have come from our desire to explore the cosmos. Space exploration has created inventions ranging from phone cameras, scratch-resistant lenses, artificial limbs, insulin pumps, solar cells, water and air filtration systems, wireless headsets, memory foam, portable computers, LEDs and more.1 And it has recently created on more. Space tourism. Companies, including Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin have recently safely flown their founders to space and back.
Beyond the inventions that are possible there are a number of other reasons why we must embark in a great space age.
New Technologies and Research
There are so many essential technologies that we have developed as a result of space exploration. Technologies for living for prolonged periods in space such as hydroponics, water extraction, and medical research will be the next areas.2
There are plenty of opportunities to explore in space. Many believe space could produce the first trillionaires. Here are some of the key industries that once developed in space by industrailists and entrepreneurs they will transfer to earth.
Development of energy related industries will power ships and stations in space, but you better believe it, those technologies will be passed down to the rest of us on earth for new ways to powering our cars, phones and homes.
Water, critical for all life-support functions in space, including sustenance, hygience and food production will be essential for all industries in space. Water can serve as an effective shield from the dangerous radiation present in space, and it can also be the single most important feedstock for in-space refineries, which will produce rocket propellants for sale to transportation providers. Making propellants available beyond Earth’s gravitational influence will lead to the creation of the first in-space superhighway. It will accelerate other industries such as energy, mining and refining. These will be
One of the key industries in the space will be construction. As we begin to move industries to space innovations in construction will accelerate and transform how we live on earth. Zero-gravity additive manufacturing techniques will enable construction systems to print and assemble massive structures in the medium of space.
Tourism and Hospitality
As more people fly and return safely so to will demand increase and the space tourism industry experiences a boon. The space tourism industry is anticipated to generate $37 billion in the next decade alone.2 The dawn of this new industry will be followed by hospitality as numerous space ports are constructed to host guests for extended stays in space hotels like the Voyager Station expected to open within the decade.
Perhaps one of the more vital industries that will be created in space in manufacturing of items that we cannot produce on earth. Production of goods without gravity creates numerous and exciting possibilities. A kind of fiber-optic cable called ZBLAN with one-tenth the signal loss of silica-based optical fibers can only be produced without gravity. Organs are another product that could become essential for those on earth. Currently there are over 120,000 waiting for heart and other organs that are virtually impossible to create on Earth because of gravity. Metal alloys can be produced in space to a much higher quality as metals are able to mix together more evenly improving quality significantly from those created on earth.3
Mining asteroids seems like a small thing, but if we can locate and mine resources that are rare on earth such as platinum group metals (ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium and platinum) and could mean development of new wealth and advancement of new technologies that were not possible before because of limited resources.4
Exploration is in Us
There are more practical reasons for space exploration, but one of the principle reasons we must continue is that we’re explorers. That’s why humans number in the billions — from our earliest upright steps, we’ve endeavored to learn more about the world around us, and this allowed us to build civilization. Exploring space is an opportunity not only to discover new worlds and build advanced technologies, but to work together toward a larger goal irrespective of nationality, race, or gender. If we stop exploring, we stop being human.
Colonization is Important
There are over than 7 billion humans on Earth. We’re all crammed together on this one planet. If an asteroid hit Earth or something fatal happened our species could be wiped out. Colonizing other bodies in the solar system is a way to create a “backup” of humanity that will survive no matter what happens to Earth, but it will surely teach us something important about ourselves in the process.5
Peace for Humankind
Space exploration can be a catalyst to bring us together. Humankind has been in the midst of conflicts since the dawn of civilization, and it is not showing any signs of changing. Looking to the stars very well could save us from ourselves, unifying our species to look beyond our blue planet and to a future in space where there are new opportunities for all.
Our global economy is about to transform into one that is literally out of this world, and it will surpass our wildest dreams. When we begin to realize that Earth’s economy is only the beginning, our concept of growth changes exponentially. The sky is no longer the limit. This is the dawn of a new era.
In order for us to have a future that’s exciting and inspiring, it has to be one where we’re a space-bearing civilization.-Elon Musk
- Inventions we use every day that were actually created for space exploration. USA Today. July 8th, 2019.
- These 5 industries will be first to do business in space. World Economic Forum. November 24th, 2017.
- 4 Products That Make Sense to Manufacture in Orbit. IEEE Spectrum. November 29th, 2019.
- The Asteroid Trillionaires. Physics World. June 11th, 2018.
- 5 Reasons Space Exploration Is More Important Than Ever. Extreme Tech. April 24th, 2018.