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Discussion of The History of Space Exploration and Colonization

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Many ancient paintings depict humans looking up at the heavens, indicating that humans have been wondering about space for centuries. With our technological advancements, we are now capable of reaching space. We have launched rockets to the moon, countless satellites, and even have space stations. Although many scientists and government space programs say human space exploration is decades away, many private companies are dedicating all their efforts to make it happen within the next few years. The Apollo 11 mission was able to safely navigate humans to the moon with technology less advanced than that of our phones; so we can certainly reach Mars.

All through the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union were competing to dominate space and each had their own struggles, as well as remarkable wins. It wasn’t until 1969, a period where in order to call a person you needed to turn a number plate to dial their number, when the United States set foot on the moon, that there was a clear dominance between the two countries. Since that period of time, there has been no attempt to send a person deeper into space. “Should have a moon base by now and sent astronauts to Mars.” Elon Musk, who is the founder and CEO of SpaceX, twitted in regards to the president directing astronauts to go to the moon and then to Mars.

Scientists have been developing many advancements in growing food in space that can allow us to live and colonize other planets. NASA has been developing a space garden that has an “18-inch-square self-sufficient laboratory with more than 180 sensors and automated watering. Scientists can establish their variables and thus nail down the specific conditions that cultivate plants—and how those plants can ­cultivate humans. A temperature-­control system keeps the air within 0.5°C of the thermo­stat setting. Sensors relay data about air temperature, light, moisture, and oxy­gen levels back to base.” according to an article by Popular Science. Having food was an issue but now it is a thing of the past since we can grow many vegetables and many experiments are being conducted. Being able to grow food in space is important for space travel since we wouldn’t have the need to vacuum seal all of the food we have on board. It will not only provide a food source but it will also give us oxygen and use up our waste. Many countries and universities are further developing space food research.

While space exploration and research were being dominated by NASA, now it is being taken over by private companies. The company that is taking over it is called SpaceX, run by Elon Musk, has been breaking many records and has developed many new technological advancements. They first started making headlines when a rocket was able to be used twice and not just once, like what NASA has. Being able to use a rocket more than once is going to save us money and time. That achievement further proves that our technology is able to reach Mars and outer space.

Ever since SpaceX publicly announced that they wanted to reach Mars, other private companies started to develop their own space missions. This will drive up competition between government agencies, private companies, and many businesses. The competition will cause another space race that will lead to many achievements to be made making space travel become a thing of the present much faster.

Who should be the first people to colonize Mars? Elson Musk said that if you’re ready to die then you will be considered as a candidate. Of course, there will be more requirements than that. One of the requirements is that whoever gets chosen they will need a few days of training to adjust you to the challenges your new life will be throwing at you. NASA on the other hand, wants you to pass a “Space Physical”.Within the physical, you need good vision, good blood pressure, and a certain hight. Space X and NASA are also looking to have a coed crew to send to Mars. Studies conducted by the University of Pennsylvania proved that all men or an all-woman crew aren’t a good idea, they found that a coed crew can be less rude and territorial. This research can help upcoming mission leaders to choose their crew members to have the best result they can.

New missions that may be coming up in the future is to mine asteroids since they hold the possibility to make you rich. Most asteroids contain hard to find elements, such as gold, platinum, and rhodium. Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, said that the first person that discovers how to mine asteroids will be the first person in human existence to be a trillionaire. A football field-sized asteroid can yield 50 billion dollars in platinum. A company named Planetary Resources was set on being able to mine asteroids by the 2020s. The company mentioned that in 2015 as it had a full plan and millions of dollars in donations. As more and more people saw their determination, countries started forming laws that limited much of their plan goals.

Space exploration and travel have become a big deal, now more than ever since many research papers are pointing at irreversible global warming causing damage to our Earth. An article by NASA called “Is It Too Late To Prevent Climate Change?” mentions “the Arctic, for example, maybe ice-free at the end of the summer melt season within just a few years.” That is just the beginning of the consequences we are facing, who knows what other dramatic effects that could happen if we don’t do anything.

A few pollutants that are destroying our planet are black carbon, coal ash, and ozone, according to “5 Obscure Pollutants That Are Ruining The Planet” and article written by Global Citizen. Black carbon is produced when burning diesel, it most common with land vehicles, but shipping ports are areas where black carbon is found in large proportions and are causing health effects. Coal Ash is given off by factories and produces immediate health risks once it is burned. Coal ash can also make its way into rivers and waterways that harm wildlife once they drink it or if they swim in it. The Ozone at ground level is bad since it poses many threats to humans. Breathing it in can cause many people to develop allergies, cough, chest pain, and harm lung tissue.

Another big threat that we are facing as the human race grows is that the amount of space we have to live is running out. It is said that by the year 2050, the Earth will reach a population of nine billion humans. Many industries are trying to figure out how to deal with feeding and housing that many people but the best solution is to find another planet to live on. With those things coming our way, many companies are seeing it as a business opportunity to get people to buy into their space programs and continue their development into space exploration. Some companies want to learn about space to help better understand our planet and try to fix it, and others are trying to get off of this planet and create another planet suitable for us to live in.

With the increasing dangers of living on earth, there is no question that we are going to leave this planet and go after another, but once we reach outer space and figure out how to colonize other planets then how will we establish laws and enforce them? We currently have five treaties that work as an oversimplified set of laws and were set in the 19th century. The “Outer Space Treaty”, set in 1967, is about the “Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.” The second treaty named “Rescue Agreement”, set in 1968 is about the “Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space.” The third is called the “Liability Convention”, set in 1972 to “International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects.” The fourth is called the “Registration Convention”, set in 1976 to “Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space.” The fifth is called the “Moon Agreement”, set in 1984, it was the “Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.” These treaties are mostly about Earth and not exactly about being in space and agreeing on peace and the success of the human race. If we are going to have a colony on Mars then we need to have a set of rules just like we do here on Earth. The question is, when will these set of laws be established and who will enforce them?

Once we move to deep deep space exploration the question,” what if we encounter alien life?”, needs to start appearing. Discovering alien life can be very dangerous or it can be a source of knowledge. The best outcome will be that we can work with them or find a way to study them to increase our knowledge and eventually help ourselves. The worst scenario would be if they are harmful to us and pose a threat. If this alien life is stronger and in some way smarter then we would need weapons to defend ourselves. The weapons we have on earth would be useless in space since the lack of gravity would slow them down. There needs to be a newly developed weapon system that will be effective and powerful in space. Under the current president, Donald Trump, a new military is being developed that will foresee the space realm. This branch called “Space Force” should be held accountable in developing new weapons that can be used in space.

Space exploration and travel have been long overdue. The momentum we had during the space race in the United States V. USSR has very much slowed down, but a new race between private companies is starting to rice. There are still many questions we need to answer and many things that have to be processed by the law, but everything will be processed right on time to go to space. It is time to be a multi-planet species and not just be a help to one planet that can potentially be uncharitable one day. We have the technology to grow food in space and the spaceships to take us in and out of orbit that will allow us to go to planets in our solar system.  

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