Humans in Space: 21st Century Frontiers

Humans in Space: 21st Century Frontiers

Humans in Space: 21st Century Frontiers

Humans in Space: 21st Century Frontiers

Excerpt

We all think of the space program as one of the most forward-looking of human activities. Meeting technological challenges, exploring the unknown, and the lure of the next frontier have drawn us upward, forward, on to the next milestone. This book addresses the question of what the next hundred years will bring in space. Two big unanswered questions serve to frame the future: Can we live in space inexpensively, mining water and other resources needed for human life from celestial bodies? Is there any commercial payoff from the settlement of the inner solar system? The answers to these questions will determine whether or not space settlement is our manifest destiny.

This look toward the future frames a painting which illustrates a number of important space-related issues. What sort of exploratory ventures are human beings willing to undertake? Do we have the guts to make those bold steps that visionaries are urging upon us—and does it make sense to do so? What roles will humans play in space in the next century? What is the potential for space commerce? How will the military be using space, and what will be the impact of the military use of space on civilian activities?

The year 2000 is nearly upon us; it's tempting to look ahead to the more distant future in considering what may happen. In fact, it's not just tempting, it's necessary, for what we do in the near future will set the course of the space program for the next century. If we are farsighted, we can lay the groundwork for future expansion into the solar system now. As we do so, we will be able to determine whether such an expansion makes sense or not. With lack of foresight, we will embark on yet another megaproject which will last a decade and then leave space enthusiasts . . .

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