Outer space is the ultimate frontier. Humans will never exhaust its possibilities. There will always be ‘terra incognita’ beyond the known lands. With billions of galaxies, each with millions or billions of stars and their associated planets, the potential for exploration will be there forever.
With that said, there are two great barriers to human travel into outer space; the extreme cost and danger of travel into and living in an alien environment. These barriers are not easily overcome.
A Future in Space?
Given such a frontier of inexhaustible potential, is it enough incentive to overcome the aforesaid barriers? Will space exploration be the next great adventure of human civilization? Will support by governments and private enterprise for exploration of the unknown not only continue, but expand in the years ahead? Will 2200 be just another year during a ‘Golden Age’ of space exploration? Examples from history say, it may not happen.
Twentieth Century history in America indicates that support for Space exploration could be brief. The great leap forward to the moon initiated by President Kennedy in the 1960s was thwarted in the early 1970s by a cut off in political and financial support by President Nixon. Again, in the second decade of the 21st Century, an economic downturn of worldwide proportions threatens to strangle space exploration in its infancy.
In favor of a positive outlook is the potential for new discovery in space - both economic and scientific - and the enthusiasm of millions of space exploration supporters. A powerful way to assure that such support results in a favorable outcome - that man is not condemned forever to life on one planet - is that outer space be seen as a path to great wealth and economic stimulation on this planet. The May 2012 announcement of a plan by entrepreneurs to mine asteroids for valuable resources may be a positive sign in this direction.