Mankind has always been an explorative species. Hence our current state, which is a huge departure from our caveman days. Thanks to our intellect, we have been able to understand a lot of the reality that we live in.
From studying the other species that we share the planet with and understanding the laws of nature to manipulating the various aspects of the planet itself to suit our needs, we have taken on different fields of study that has led to a humongous reservoir of our collective knowledge.
And yet, we have only begun our journey. On the timescale of history itself, we have but taken a step or two forward and we have a long way to go. To give you a perspective of how long, let me tell you, we still do not understand 96% of the universe.
Also, survival is our most basic instinct and we must ensure that all that we have accumulated over millenniums, survives too. For these reasons and many others, it is time that we expand our presence in the cosmos.
Let’s Start With The Moon
Ever since the Apollo missions were discontinued, our interest in space has waned a little from a human exploration point of view. Yes, we did build the international space station which was a major feat to achieve but beyond that nothing much has been done.
Now, it seems that the fire has been rekindled and talks of colonising Mars in the not too distant futures are being undertaken. NASA, as well as some private companies are looking very eagerly into how quickly we can reach there.
But, many experts have suggested that it will be wiser that we also take a more serious look at lunar bases. In fact, the European Space Agency is planning it already. Having a permanent presence on the moon has some really great advantages, especially considering that the ISS will be decommissioned in 2024.
We have several technologies in place already and that can be utilised to make that happen. Yes, it is easier said than done but how can we succeed if we don’t even try.
1. A Testing Ground For Mars Colonisation
The ultimate goal right now is to create Earth 2.0 and we have chosen Mars to be our second home. The problem there, is that we have never colonised a planet before and therefore we know nothing about it.
So, a lunar base could serve as an experimental ground to gather data about how we could go about doing the same things on Mars. Since the moon is much nearer than Mars, it would be easier and we would become aware of several problems and their solutions that we haven’t even thought about yet.
2. A Launchpad For Future Space Missions
Sending rockets to space from Earth is much more difficult than sending them from the Moon. This is because Earth’s gravity is much stronger than that of the Moon.
The propellant required to launch rockets from the Moon would be quite low due to this factor and also, the propellants could be sourced from the materials found on Moon.
3. A Pit Stop For Space Travellers
Much like in sci-fi movies, future space travellers wouldn’t necessarily need to come back to Earth and they could just resupply on the Moon considering that would be easier to do.
Also, space missions launched from the Earth would have somewhere to land on in case of emergencies. The same goes for people coming back to Earth from Mars.
4. A Lookout For Asteroids
Asteroids pose a grave threat to our survival and the fact that we miss a lot of these and they fly by just missing Earth, provides no solace.
Having a permanent base on the Moon with telescopes, would mean that there would be a better scanning of space for asteroids headed our way. We would have two vantage points in that regard.
5. It Could Kickstart Space Tourism
Space Tourism is a topic that we hear about a lot but it is something that has never quite become a reality. High costs, danger to life, lack of appropriate technology and a lack of demand are to be blamed.
If lunar bases are installed on the Moon, it could kickstart space tourism. With SpaceX working to reduce the cost of space travel considerably, space tourism may get more demand and where there is demand, there usually is supply.
People may be skeptic about it, but we have to start somewhere. A lot of things are dangerous and costly in the beginning but things become much simpler as we continue to do it again and again. Take travelling from one continent to another as an example. “Normal” people couldn’t even imagine doing it only centuries ago and now we are all flying around in cylindrical containers!!
Lastly I want to say,
Home is comfortable but we are destined to leave it. 500 years down the road, we as humans, will be surprised as to how long it took us to muster up the courage to leave Earth for good for the advancement of the species. Every new venture is nerve-racking and a venture out into space is certainly one. But it is something we need to do to ensure our survival and the continued satisfaction of our never ending curiosity.