Spacewalks, Mars, and more… humans in space!

Space exploration has been part of ambitious  programmes run by United States,  Europe, Russia and others. Most of these

Cartoon of Yuri Gagarin opening a door looking into space

programmes are funded and run by governments who may use private firms as contractors to source space craft parts.The farthest a human being has gone into space is perhaps the moon landing of the 1960s. Since then space walks by different astronauts have taken place and we have astronauts in the International Space Station, though the overall emphasis was on unmanned exploration.

In space exploration, apart from the question of manned versus unmanned, there has also been the rise of the question of government versus private. The complex technological and investment heavy field has led to many companies supplying parts to agencies such as NASA for their missions, and conducting research for them. More recently the International Space Station has been serviced by rockets launched by the company SpaceX.

We are now on the threshold of an entirely new space scape: The private individual having access to space!

Private companies such as the Virgin Galactic and Golden Spike (and others, see link) have been set up with the express purpose of launching missions to take (suitably cash rich) people into space/moon, exploring space and mining on asteroids/moons. While Inspiration Mars want to take human being near/on Mars and Mars One wants to create a human settlement on Mars, see this article

Is this the entrance to the rich world that sci-fi writers such as Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, C.J. Cherryh  and others have so wonderfully created?

Going into space: the idea thrills me to my very core (see also my blogpost “…A Homage to Voyager I”. Yet the idea of unfettered (the only constraints being money) space exploration and exploitation make me deeply nervous. Our history of finding new lands and then colonizing them and their indigenous peoples is not particularly complimentary to us. The idea of colonizing in and of itself is something I find distressing. But besides that, there are other concerns

Will we be welcomed by other species (if advanced enough)? Will we be writing our own version of the Martian Chronicles as opposed to Bradbury’s fantastic fiction? Can we co-exist harmoniously with those who are different from us? John Wyndham and China Mieville have posed this question in their novels in a most entertaining read.

We will find our own answers to these questions in time. And to those questions that we have not yet thought of. I hope the journey is one of discovery and not one of carnage.


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