Do you want to be a space explorer?
Many internet billionaires are turning into commercial space explorers: flying as space tourists, building and launching their own rockets, and starting space mining companies. They do this because the technology to take human civilization into the solar system has arrived. Space colonization is now possible, and we can solve many of Earth’s greatest problems, too, by bringing the billion-fold greater resources of our solar system into our economic sphere. The greatest entrepreneurs of our time have sensed that this will be the golden age of space and they want to make it happen.
Well, that can be a signal to the rest of us. It’s time to get involved in space! Let’s not get left out from what may be the most important movement of our times. A few of us might get jobs working for a government space agency, and many more might work for the commercial space companies, but we can all be citizen space explorers! The same technologies that are opening up space are also making it more participatory.
This blog will focus on this movement of human civilization into space: exploring it, mining it, utilizing its resources, setting up profitable commerce, establishing a self-sustaining industry, and eventually building colonies beyond the Earth. In the coming posts I will have a lot to say about this fledgling movement known as “citizen space exploration.” I am a physicist and planetary scientist at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center* and have worked in this field for almost 30 years. I co-founded the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Lab located in the KSC Swamp Works. We develop technologies to land on extraterrestrial bodies, to drive on and to dig in the soil, to mine its resources, to process them for human exploration and industry, to build with the local resources, and to study them for science. Many of us in the space industry believe we see the way forward to rapidly move humanity beyond a single planet and solve world problems. This is my passion and calling as a scientist and technologist. I am excited to play a role in this. It could be the most interesting time in all human history to be alive! We are on the verge of leaping over the barrier that exists here at the end of our Kardashev Type I civilization (more on that later) to establish a Type II civilization, one that is no longer bound to a single planet, so that we can really make the entire solar system our home. Wow! What will the world be like when we have literally a billion times greater capacity through robotics and space resources to make goods and services, to do science and engineering, to support the arts and literature, and to do everything that together are called “civilization”? It is truly hard to imagine, just as it would have been hard for an ancient Sumerian to imagine what we can do in the type of civilization we have today.
We are already experiencing an explosion of the technologies that will make this possible: robotics, artificial intelligence, automated manufacturing, and so on. And for me it is all the more exciting because space exploration is becoming democratized. It will no longer be the exclusive domain of professional rocket scientists. Its explorers and settlers will be a cross section of our entire population, including people just like you. So if you want to be a part of this great movement in human history, you can. First there are things we can do here on Earth to make it happen. Then there may be opportunities for telepioneering, where we privately own and operate robots in space to directly participate in space commerce and to create the worlds where we will be going. And just beyond that, we may have opportunities to go there. Through this blog, please allow me share my excitement and ideas for how we can help humanity take this great leap, how through space resources and technology we can move our world rapidly into something much more vibrant and vastly more exciting than the world we have known so far.
* B.N., all opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent NASA, the federal government, or the Kennedy Space Center.