The Future of Space Travel and Exploration

Future of Space Travel

When NASA put a man on the moon in the 1960s, space travel was largely a nationally funded enterprise. But the future of space travel lies not in the hands of those running our nations, but largely in the hands of big business. This has big implications for the future of space exploration, both in scientific terms, and in terms of commercial space travel, sometimes known as space tourism. The future of space travel can seem exciting. But it also raises a range of concerns, many of which come from the fact that it is likely to be largely controlled by big business and related interests.

In our modern world, we rely hugely on satellites orbiting around our planet. They are central to the smooth operation not only of our civil technologies – television, Internet, GPS systems etc. but also to the smooth operation of our militaries. The amount of commercial and governmental activity in space has increased dramatically, and continues to rise. As the orbit of our planet becomes ever more congested, there is an increasing risk that the low earth orbit could become a venue for geopolitical conflict.

Unfortunately, though we are relying more and more on satellite technologies, legally speaking, the low earth orbit is an ambiguous realm. There is great potential for confusion, accident or even deliberate disruption or obfuscation. In a space that is becoming ever more crowded, this arena is becoming ever more of a risk.

In the future, as space becomes ever more accessible and space tourism takes off, there could also be additional risks, in the form of potential for space terrorism, both on the behalf of antagonistic states and also from individuals or private interest groups. The potential for catastrophic new threats to emerge in this arena is real – not science fiction.

Things to consider

There is an urgent need for new rules or updated protocols regarding the orbit of our planet, space flight and space ‘tourism’. Without adequate rules and regulations, the future of space travel could be one fraught with conflict and a range of risks.

But even with regulation, there is risk that future space travel could bring with it disastrous consequences for life on this planet. Sub orbital space flights and other space flights could dramatically worsen global warming, or even push us to a tipping point from which we cannot recover.

If we are not careful, space flight in the future may not be for pleasure or for the sheer joy of discovery – it may be a necessity – the only chance for the survival of humanity which has destroyed its only home.

For humankind to survive, we may need to push out beyond our horizons – to Mars and perhaps even beyond. But will humanity learn from the past, or repeat past mistakes? The future of space travel and the human race depends on if and when we are able to do so. Will be be able to save life on earth, or peacefully and responsibly colonize other planets? The future remains to be seen – but whatever happens, it is clear that we will all have some big decisions to make along the way.

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