Space Exploration and politics: what does the future hold for humanity?

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Since the dawn of mankind, we’ve looked to the stars. To our ancient forefathers, they were mystical beings from other worlds which ruled over all. To us, they are a reminder of our frailty, mortality, and ambition. Humanity draws inspiration from space. We want to reach out and plunder the vast nothingness. We do it out of curiosity and greed. Such is our fate. 

For half a decade, the USA and Russia have been fighting over which country will be the first to breach into space. This rivalry has brought out both the best and the worst in each country, respectively. The worst is the constant undermining of each other’s authority and the resulting cold war. The best is the politically ideological competition that launched the first satellite into orbit and landed a human being on the Moon. Fueled by selfish reasons and political warmongering, each country strove for domination over space exploration. 

Why Do Countries Strive for Space Domination?

Why? For power and profit, of course. It is as true today as it was fifty years ago; the country that showed off the most advanced technology was considered superior. You see this superiority complex every day: on the news, the Internet, even in the streets. Even though we’ve accomplished so much in half a century, we still separate ourselves into different units under different banners. It is an archaic way of thinking that does more harm these days than brings any sort of benefit.

What are the targets of space exploration?

Fortunately, plans to become a space-faring civilization are not so easily dampened by greed. Space exploration companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin are currently engaged in funding and developing space exploration technologies that will be used soon to reach further than landing on the Moon and sending a drone to Mars. 

Just recently, SpaceX and Exolaunch successfully launched their first rideshare mission in 2020, which carried 30 satellites into orbit. This was a remarkable feat, not only due to the large number of units positioned into Earth’s orbit but since it was a collaboration of two large and international companies. The success of the project was met with enthusiasm by both the press and other companies. Recently, it also turned out that the German Rocket Factory Augsburg has purchased engine elements for its rocket from a Ukrainian rocket details manufacturer. So it seems that collaboration pays off. 

Space offers endless opportunities. It has been a known fact that one of the targets that the space industry wants to reach by 2030 is the ability to send tourists into space. Similar to astronauts, space tourists will go under training (albeit not as intense) and be able to fly in a licensed spaceship. Jeff Bezos accomplished something similar recently. The owner of Amazon financed his own shuttle to space and, together with his brother and a few other people, became known as the first space tourist.

Another target that the space industry is reaching for soon is the development of innovative space exploration technologies. We aren’t talking about new rockets or engine parts, but space exploration tech that will allow astronauts to begin rudimentary terraforming of a planet. The industry isn’t quite there yet, but a functional prototype is said to exist somewhere in SpaceX’s vaults. Having a piece of equipment that can quickly and efficiently terraform a small section of a planet will allow us to reach destinations that were thought to be unreachable and drastically reduce the cost of space exploration by providing a sustainable supply of oxygen. 

Can collaboration assist in reaching space?

Joe Biden recently stated that his administration is encouraging the international exchange of information and ideas regarding the future of space exploration. This comes in lieu of several large independent companies announcing their partnership with Chinese space industry giants. The goal is to freely exchange information about space exploration and work together to develop new tech that could aid astronauts in space exploration missions. This is a stark opposition to Trump’s statement that the American space industry will remain rivals with China and Russia as opposed to working with them.

A shining example of international cooperation within the Space Industry is the ISS, the International Space Station. The ISS was a large undertaking that saw the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and Europe work together for years in order to create a station that would serve as a base for long-term space exploration. The base was launched in 1998 and, to this day, has housed astronauts from 18 different countries.  

What does cross-border collaboration bring?

Cross-border collaboration refers to the free exchange of ideas, manpower, and business between companies from different countries without restrictions. While such a venture would have been impossible fifty years ago, the modern age has allowed us to communicate around the globe instantaneously. Cross-border collaboration brings many new opportunities to the global space industry, such as:

  • Free exchange of information;
  • Foreign projects
  • Increased foreign revenue;
  • Unlimited supply of resources and components;
  • Readily available manpower;

The removal of national borders for the sake of collaboration is not only lucrative but efficient. With the available worldwide space industry at companies’ disposal, projects could be completed ahead of schedule, reducing the burden of menial labor employees and increasing efficiency. Moreover, an increase in development tempo could only mean faster development of new technologies, which in turn will be even more lucrative and more efficient.

There are many reasons why humanity wants to reach the stars, but there is only one that unifies the entire Earth: we want to discover what hasn’t been discovered yet. Of course, it is still too early to say whether we as a species will conquer the galaxy, but we are always optimistic. With an emphasis on friendly collaboration and a focus on commerce rather than politics, the future of space exploration does seem promising.

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