A brief history of space travel
In many ways the todays advances in space travel came into fruition by accident. During World War II the Nazi’s create and implement rockets as weapons against the British. These rockets flew over 3,500 miles per hour and had an arch of 60 miles high. (A Brief History, n.d). Following WWII, the Soviet Union began creating their own missile program (A Brief History, n.d). By 1957 the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik 1, the first satellite into space. They followed this up four years later by having Russian Lieutenant Yuri Gagarin become the first person to orbit earth (A Brief History, n.d). His trip which was taken in the Vostok 1 lasted 1 hour and forty-eight minutes reached an altitude of 202 miles. (A Brief History, n.d)
The initial US satellite Explorer 1, was not launched until 1958. This achievement was followed by Alan Shepard flying into space and John Glenn becoming the first American to orbit the earth in 1962. (A Brief History, n.d). In the mid 1960’s NASA began sending unmanned aircraft to the moon in order ascertain the safety of sending men up there. Then in 1969 Neil Armstrong became the first man to step onto the moon. The following few years were a time of intense exploration as NASA sent six Apollo missions to the moon. (A Brief History, n.d).
During the 1970’s even more advances were reached. NASA now had spacecraft orbiting Mars and by the end of the 70’s the Voyager spacecraft had sent back images of Jupiter and Saturn (A Brief History, n.d). America’s first space station Skylab along with the Apollo Soyuz Test Project, which was the first Russian and American manned space mission (A Brief History, n.d) were the pinnacle of space exploration achievement in the 1970’s.
Then in the 1980’s the improvements in satellite technology allowed satellite images to be broadcast into one’s home to their home antennas. This would later be beneficial during the Gulf War, by helping the military to gain control of the situation from the air (A Brief History, n.d). This also enables the military to know of impending missile attacks and movement of the troops, both their own and the enemies. (A Brief History, n.d) These improvements also enabled NASA to take images of celestial bodies deeper in space than before allowing them to find new stars and other heavenly bodies. (A Brief History, n.d).
Reusable shuttles came into existence in 1981 with the shuttle Columbia. This worked fine until the Challenger shuttle exploded in 1986 killing its seven passengers. (A Brief History, n.d). In response to this tragedy NASA worked to make “certain a suitable launch system was available when satellites were scheduled to fly” (A Brief History, n.d). This is made possible my “having more than one launch method and launch facility available and by designing satellite systems to be compatible with more than one launch system” (A Brief History, n.d).
According to famed astrophysicist and Cosmologist Stephen Hawking the only way for humanity to survive the next thousand years is to colonize space. As a long-time advocate of space exploration and colonization Hawking has said many times in the past that remaining on a single planet makes the human race vulnerable to extinction. Rather this extinction comes through cosmic means or by human aggression. In Hawking’s opinion the destruction of the Earth is imminent and the only way for the human race to survive is for us to colonize space. “Space represents the long term future of the human race and can act as “life insurance” for the species, (Griffin). He also appears to believe that mankind would make better decisions in regards to this new planet “but it has given us new perspectives on them and caused us to look both outward and inward” (Griffin).
How it could be done
As it stands right now the only way to get to any planet is to spend months to years in a space ship. One would expect that if we had the ability to visit a planet then it must be within a reasonable travel time. But what if there was another way for mankind to colonize space without the long travel times and at the same time make the planet more hospitable to those who do not mind taking the trip.
What if “instead of sending people to other planets, we made a copy on site” (Neal). Adam Steltzner thinks that the best way to get humans into space is to imprint humankind onto another planet (Neal). This works by encoding bacteria with human DNA. Then when NASA goes to a new planet they would take along these human bacteria imprints. The building blocks of this bacterium would reassemble as a human being (Neal). According to Drs. Ruvkun and Church, who pioneered the DNA space travel concept at the Harvard Medical School’s Genetics Department. Human imprinting is both a possibility and a dream (Neal). Ruvkun ascertained that while it was possible to encode bacteria with the DNA of humans in fact he compared the amount of DNA that could be stored in a bacterium to the amount of music that can be stored in an iPod (Neal).
Ruvkun goes on to say that imprinting bacterium with human DNA is essentially the same idea as terraforming Mars by introducing oxygen and plant microbes to the planet. (Neal). The problem with the “hitching” a ride on a bacteria hypothesis is the whole reassemble on the other side thing. According to Ruvkun we not have the yet have ability to “reassemble humans from DNA” (Neal). Despite this setback the use of bacteria to transfer the human DNA is not outside the realm of possibility. In fact, as science and technology advances the idea could become more feasible. The question of who is supposed to reassemble this human DNA must also be asked or are we supposed to assume that it would reassemble naturally. Let’s theorize that the DNA reassembled itself there is no guarantee that it would reassemble in a way that would be recognizably human.
The reason that a new de/evolution of human may be possible is because of two factors. (1) the trip through space triggered something in the genome that causes a simultaneous mutation of the active DNA cells (2) a “empty” or inactive DNA cell gets triggered causing changes in the human race over time.
What does Space Colonization look like?
One of the problems with inhabiting another planet involves gravity. As the author of ___states Mar’s gravity of 1/3g is less than Earth’s gravity of 1g. This would mean that the bone density of a child would not be strong enough to visit Earth. In fact, to do so, would cause a person a large amount of pain. (Globus) This would make interplanetary travel impossible. The only way to get by this is to create artificial gravity.
Being that we would have the technology to get to another planet to colonize would also mean that we can effectively travel between planets at a reasonable speed. This would enable quick trips between planets once the gravity issue is sorted. Being that the citizen of the new colony in space would be unable to go outside due to the atmosphere. It would be necessary to continue expanding the colony. These expansions would be possible due to the weightlessness of the atmosphere (Globus). Being that there is no water on the surface of any nearby planet means that there is more liveable space on which people can live. (Globus)
Yes, we should
It is our divine right to spread out into the cosmos. Besides if we move our factories to space it would lessen pollution on Earth. We can mine the planet for all of its minerals and resources and during this time we can either allow Earth to restore itself so that mankind can return or we can move on to another planet. Despite the fact that everyone on Earth can comfortably fit in the western part of the United States, we are quickly becoming over populated and it is necessary for our survival.
No We should not
It is bad enough that we have left our imprint as much as we have on space. We need to do the rest of the universe a favor and refrain from destroying it as we inevitable will with our own planet. One can attempt to argue that as the population of earth grows and resources are used up that in order for mankind as a species to survive we will need to find somewhere else to inhabit. The issue I have with this is that mankind will not learn its lessons from the past and will just continue their destructiveness on another planet. This could have catastrophic consequences for the universe in my opinion. This is because life on Earth itself slowly evolved and adapted to biological footprint of life around it. This is why there has been a number of adaptations in humans and animals over time. These adaptations make it possible for the Earth’s ecological system to function smoothly. The inhabitants of Earth would inexplicable damage the surface of any planet we would choose to inhabit. One could argue that we would enable a planet such as Mars, which seems inhabitable except for the lack of oxygen to obtain the oxygen that it needs to sustain life. This is true, but the life that we would force on it would not be natural to the planet and as I mentioned earlier neither would have the other’s biological footprint.
If we are determined to colonize other planets we should start off slowly. Possibly by first introducing Oxygen to the planet, this would eventually enable planets to grow. After which the colonization of Earth’s life forms would make sense. This is not what I see proposed. People such as Elon Musk want to build space colonies on an inhospitable planet in order to mine the planet for all of its mineral resources. This would not be advantageous in the long run because by the time that the planet would be livable it would be destroyed. So until we can change our perspective on the value of space we should remain on Earth
A Brief History of Space Exploration. (n.d.). Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://www.aerospace.org/education/stem-outreach/space-primer/a-brief-history-of-space-exploration/
Globus, A. (2015, November 12). Space Settlement Basics. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/Basics/wwwwh.html
Griffin, A. (2015, February 20). Stephen Hawking: Space travel will save mankind and we should colonise other planets. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/stephen-hawking-space-travel-will-save-mankind-and-we-should-colonise-other-planets-10058811.html
Neal, M. (2014, May 29). Our Best Bet for Colonizing Space May Be Printing Humans on Other Planets. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://motherboard.vice.com/read/our-best-bet-for-colonizing-space-may-be-printing-humans-on-other-planets