Outer Space has captured the imagination of scientist, poets, scholars and children alike. The urge to reach out for the stars existed even before the desire to fly, it is this urge to reach for infinity and beyond that has been the plot for countless movies and numerous discoveries. While we have come a long way, when compared to our ancestors, manned space exploration has stagnated since the 1970’s. But the potential of total annihilation by a freak launch or deliberate attack has increased exponentially. Couple that with diminishing natural resource pool and global warming and we have a recipe for mayhem. Not taking into account threats posed by a sudden super volcanic eruption or giant asteroids, our chances of being whipped out from the face of planet Earth keeps increasing by the second. Ignoring all this just like most of our other problem, stating its a distant possibility or entirely rubbishing the idea calling it a plot by an enemy nation, is bound to be one of man kinds greatest mistakes. If studies are to be believed Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals. With extinction rate up by at least a 1000 to 1000 percent, relative to the background rate, we are losing over a dozen species every single day. Unlike, the previous five mass extinction events, humans are responsible for this one, with 99 percent of all threatened species at risk from human activities it is really hard to prove the contrary. To put it in simple words we have outgrown our planet and for the most part become a threat to its very existence.
This is where outer space comes into the picture. With terrestrial reserves of precious resources, essential for modern industries, estimated to run out in less than a century. We would have to choose between, plundering the ocean floor and water to suck them dry of all its minerals or venture out. Though venturing out into the vastness of outer space and exploiting other rocks for resources might sound as science fiction, it could very well be the only way forward. With estimated worth of minerals on certain asteroids running into trillions of dollars, they also are of great economic significance. For example, if 16 psyche (an asteroid) is successfully mined for its iron and nickel, it alone could help supply the world production requirement for several million years or if we could mine the moon for Helium-3 ( a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium) it could single-handedly solve the energy crisis on planet earth. By providing clean (non-radioactive, with zero emissions) and continuous energy supply via a fission reaction. Our solar system is filled with rocks that could potentially change the entire dynamics of life as we know it. The ability to tame these asteroids would provide us with resources needed to further expand our reach and one-day venture out of our solar system. If we hope to survive as a species then we have to move out and become a multiplanet species. We have done a similar thing before when our ancestors moved out of Africa, helping us become a worldwide phenomenon. It’s time we think on the same lines and dare to venture out before it is too late.
Outer space does not only hold the key to unlimited resources and our survival as a species but also to peace and unity amongst us. As it stands, with increased militarization and rise of tension between global powers, we are likely to blow ourselves up, to quote Elon Musk “I don’t think we can discount the possibility of a Third World War.”. This is true in most sense, whether we venture out into space or not. Some scholars might even argue that the increased influx of resource and the race to get them is only going to fuel tensions on Earth. Humans have always had the tendency to fight one another to prove their superiority.
The only way we could grow together as a species without killing one another is if we are able to find ALIENS. Yeah, you read that right, ALIENS, Sounds crazy? Not really, by basic laws of probability, the chances of us being alone in the universe is extremely slim. Many, scholars including Stephen Hawking believe that being found by intelligent alien species will most likely result in our destruction. They believe it would be similar to the native Americans meeting European settlers (Yup, Contrary to popular believes most of the modern day Americans are actually aliens. Technically the indigenous population was almost entirely wiped out by these aliens and the land colonized). Some might advise against an alien exploration mission. Time and again history has proven that those who dare to venture out and explore, Thrive and survive. Those who don’t, well we know why the Europeans were able to enslave almost the entire planet. The vast emptiness of space is actually filled with opportunity and hope for mankind. All we have to do is reach out before it’s too late. Increased spending on space explorations and interplanetary travel are what humans need. Though it might sound like forsaking our mother, it is in practice comparable to a young child leaving his parents house in search of better opportunities.