To Infinity and Beyond: How space colonization may be happening sooner than we could have imagined.

The human race has only ever inhabited planet earth. For much of human history, astronomy, outer space, and the universe at large has been an object of wonder and marvel. We have always discovered much of what we know about our world by studying that which is physically beyond our human
capacity to reach.

In the late 1950s however, everything changed. The Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first ever man-made satellite to be placed in earth’s orbit, and thus began what is commonly referred to as the “Space Race”. In December of 1969, Apollo 8 was launched, and the first three humans in the entirety of human history left earth’s orbit.

Our fascination with space has taken on many forms. What was once a spiritual and religious interest has progressively shifted to become a utility of weaponization and competition. Within the last few decades there has been serious talk of colonizing space.

Many astrophysicists, astronomers, and space expansionists have come to the conclusion that space colonization is not as much a far fetched fantasy as it is a necessity. We must find a way to sustain human life outside of earth, or else humanity risks extinction. Of course evacuating earth to save the human species is inevitable within the next billion years as the sun will
eventually make the earth inhabitable, but the idea that perhaps within our life time, human beings will begin living outside of earth’s orbit seems crazy to imagine.

The conflicts that will arise with space colonization are what make its prospects so distant and seemingly unimaginable. The way scientists phrase it now, it seems as though this will be an event that will connect all of humanity together in an effort to strive towards one grand, unifying cause: the continuation and salvation of the human species. The problem with this is how we have dealt with space exploration in the past.

Our exploration efforts have always been framed as a kind of competition. Between the Space Race of the 20th century and the newest addition of the Space Force to the United States military as of 2019, it seems as though we have been preparing for space colonization in a disjointed and competitive way. If the scientists are correct in their assumptions about the necessity of space colonization, the leaders of our global community must find peace and some kind of common ground in order for our endeavors to ever be successful.

The more concerning problem that will arise from space colonization is the problem of our own humanity. What comes into question is the existential reality of human life on earth, the only kind of life we have ever known. Our human condition has been tethered to earth for all of human history, so if and when we begin to colonize planets other than earth, it seems like the very fabric of our humanity will be affected.

I don’t know that space colonization is going to be the great unifying endeavor that scientists are optimistically hoping it will be. I do hope that if and when humans begin to live outside earth’s orbit, some semblance of our humanity will remain intact as we embark on this new, extraterrestrial endeavor.

Sources: Healthline, CNN

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