The Academy in Space Initiative (Part III)

March 31, 2016 at 5:14 am by Frank White

For too long, the space exploration enterprise has been cordoned off and seen as the province of "space advocates." This grouping includes those of us who believe that human migration into the solar system and beyond is both inevitable and desirable.

We need to spread the idea of the Overview Effect and the importance of space exploration to a much wider audience, and not as an advocacy effort. The goal is to have a conversation with academics from every subject, and not only those who are working in science and technology. Human migration into the solar system raises questions that touch on economics, ethics, ecology, government, sociology, philosophy, and many other realms of thought.

The underlying premise is that space exploration and development is a large-scale human enterprise, not a narrow scientific and technological endeavor. As such, every academic field can offer something of value to the effort. Economists can ponder the business opportunities presented by an essentially infinite frontier, while medical researchers can think about how human beings are going to survive in an environment totally unsuited to them biologically. Political scientists can speculate on when the first Mars settlement will declare independence, and environmentalists can debate whether to use nuclear power there.

It is time for a vigorous discussion about the many issues surrounding space exploration and development. I hope it will begin at Framingham State University on April 6, 2016.

(To be continued)