We haven’t had a post from Mr. Hyatt because I was doing the April A-to-Z Challenge, but that’s over and he’s baaa-aaack.
Space, the Languishing Frontier
Are you a disaffected Science Fiction buff? A true-believer, losing faith in the trek? Perhaps you are just awaiting something. Something like:
Advances in the science of Avarice.
Some professional commentary is now directed to the disappearance of ongoing manned space programs. As if hitting a wall, Government programs are being retired at an accelerating rate. While the retirement of the space shuttle system was more directed at its failure to deliver a less expensive system for orbital insertion, other efforts looking towards planetary missions or outpost engineering have also suffered cuts, including basic planning.
Part of this is for budgetary reasons, part because bio-research has uncovered greater challenges facing manned exploration. There is no denying our peeks into the cosmos have uncovered more issues than a need to engineer for more thrust and lower mass. That said, I feel the real issue lies in our progress towards less obvious developmental sciences. I group these together as an alternate taxonomy, The Science of Avarice. The issue being not how to get there, but what can be done profitably when we arrive.
Frontiers have always been explored in minor ways driven by a wish to advance pure science, but the major thrust has always been profit: the search for gold, trade routes, ranching opportunities, and other plunder. Travel has, throughout history, always been expected to yield significant, relatively immediate, return. There is a moon of Jupiter that hoards more liquid fuel than exists, or ever did, on Earth. We are talking here lakes, oceans, of combustible fuel. A place that literally rains the equivalent of liquid Butane. Some small asteroids floating beyond Mars contain more platinum than the Earths entire reserves.
These resources are almost uniformly at the bottom of relatively minor, compared to Earth, gravity wells. The sciences needed are the sciences of Avarice. How to get at them and retrieve them profitably and in reasonable time. If not retrieve them, get at them and do profitable on-site manufacturing with them, that makes other endeavors less expensive and more profitable. The realms are material, energy, robotics, AI, and power-based science. The advances needed are dispersed throughout the scientific system of inquiry, and comprise “the first steps” that need to be taken for a new explosion in development and exploration to begin.
Science fiction has always spurred the imagination, even driven entrepreneurs and scientists to follow the life paths they chose. Well, folks, here is a clear and needed vision to write about.
After having sent me this post, Mr. Hyatt immediately followed it with a link to this post called Is James Cameron launching an asteroid mining company? Food for thought.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write a paragraph from the point of view of someone who thinks the exploitation of extra-terrestrial resources is a great idea. Write a paragraph from the point of view of someone who thinks it’s a terrible idea. Just for fun, feel free to make one or both of these narrative points of view belong to an extra-terrestrial being.