There are those who believe that technologically we can begin the process
of space industrialization, settlement and exploration right now. These
people are excited about the future they envision if we would have the courage
and commitment to accept this challenge. They do not ignore the problems
and concerns inherent in such an undertaking, but their basic attitude is
optimistic, and they have little doubt about our ability eventually and
successfully to build cities in outer space.
Unfortunately they spend precious
little time discussing or concerning themselves with the potential effects
of space settlement on Earth and her societies. This is an area that must
be considered. Not only will we spend most (if not all) of our lives here,
but the vast majority of us will choose not to live in space, but to stay
here on the Earth. Those staying will have to support the effort if it is
to succeed for everyone. Most important of all, whatever our destiny, Earth
will always be humanity's hometown.
How would the world be affected if our President were to challenge us to
a goal of space industrialization and space settlement in the same way that
President Kennedy challenged us to the moon?
Would the results be an improvement of the human condition, or a worsening
of it? Will our problems of limited energy resources, pollution, overpopulation,
malnutrition, or the destruction of the ozone layer move closer to solution,
or will the money invested on this "fantasy" (for that is what
many influential individuals have called it over the years) dilute the funds
needed to solve these pressing problems of today?
Before I can feel good about this venture, I must feel that the Earth and
her children will benefit. If the Earth will not benefit, at least proportionately
to the investment, I must question support of the challenge. How about you?
However, if the Earth will benefit in social, economic, medical, scientific
and productivity advancements, then we should meet this challenge. Is it
possible to predict the effects of a massive program like this years before
we could expect them to be felt? I believe it is, and I'd like to share
with you three reasons why I believe we should set this goal.
We ask ourselves, will our lives improve because of the advances in technology
we will experience learning how to live and work in space? To begin to understand
how our lives will improve because of these advances, we need only look
at a few of the many ways that our lives are already better because of space
In a letter to me a California politician said, "I am pleased to learn
that space technology developed for space exploration will be used for water
studies on the Earth." I think you would all agree that this is something
to be thankful for; and if we in Northern California don't get some rain
this year, we will be even more thankful. As far as spin-offs from space
research, however, this is only a beginning; we are currently using space
technology in ways most of us are unaware of.
In the book Limits to Growth, the authors determine that it is impossible
to develop farms big enough to feed the world's population and, therefore,
we must limit our growth immediately or suffer a catastrophe. While our
growth cannot continue at the rate they mention, and in many countries is
not continuing at these rates, they have missed an important factor. We
may not be able to produce enough food to feed the millions in the developing
countries, but we may be able to teach those millions to produce the food
needed to feed themselves, especially in light of new developments in intensive
farming. Space technology provides a solution through direct broadcasting
satellites that enable teaching programs to be sent via television to small
villages in developing nations throughout the world. While still in the
early stages, the potential this holds for helping people to help themselves
is enormous and includes the means of providing education in many other
areas, such as birth control and the improvement of local health conditions.
Do any of you have, or know of someone who has, a cardiac pacemaker? Without
the development of miniaturized solid state circuitry for spacecraft, the
pacemaker would not be available.
Improved breathing systems for fire-fighters were based on research done
on rocket motor casings, and so were the new light weight scuba tanks for
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