Is All That Money Being Wasted In Space?

Posted on: 31/05/2020

I am mature ( NOT old) enough to remember when there was no "Space Race".

I can also recall the moment when Vostok 1, piloted by Yuri Gagarin, completed one orbit of Earth, seemingly demonstrating to the world that the Soviet Union, then a Super Power, held sway over the United States, in those days the only other Super Power, in the rush to conquer Outer Space.

I have to state at the outset that I have never been impressed by anything to do with leaving our planet, landing on the Moon and the like. I can accept that those who pilot the spacecraft are brave women and men - but that's about it for me. 

I considered the initial Space Race a pointless - and expensive - exercise and my views have not changed over the intervening decades.

In my view, the primary benefit that the activities Gargarin and his US counterparts delivered was that it distracted the two governments involved from the thought of having a nuclear war over missile sites in Cuba. Better they waste billions of dollars and roubles in a vacuum, rather than irreversibly poisoning our planets atmosphere by hurling nuclear weapons at each other.

Now, so many years later, we are being told by the likes of Elon Musk ( expert on electric vehicles and caving), that we can look forward to the establishment of human "settlements" (not "colonies"; we all know how invariably awful colonisers are) on the Moon and Mars.

This is, of course, complete and utter nonsense.

Today, we face the prospect of the ice at the North Pole melting - all  of it - within the next 50 years. Our planet is in a state of climate crisis, even if a few elected leaders refuse to accept that reality.

Very shortly - well, now, actually - we need to devote all of our resources to stemming the rise in the worlds oceans, rather than contemplating building apartment buildings in the Sea of Tranquility.

Not that building houses on the Moon or even Mars would actually represent conquering space anyway.

Mars is a mere 140 million miles from Earth, whereas the farthest individual star ever seen is a cool 5 billion light-years from the desk at which I am sitting this afternoon.

Man will NEVER conquer space. End of story. Space IS the final frontier - and we puny Homo Sapiens are never going to reach it.

If one wants to consider feats the human race COULD achieve, look no farther than the accolade "Least Enduring Species On Earth".

The average lifespan of a mammalian species is 1 million years. So far, we Homo Sapiens have lasted 200,000 years. Would anyone take a bet on that becoming even 201,000, let alone 1 million?


So our species leasehold on the planet looks in danger of expiring, long before freeholds become available on Mars.

Part of our problem, of course, is that most technological advances have only come about because of the perceived need to "improve" the ways in which we have waged wars against each other. Empires have been built on the basis of such investments and the tenure of todays two Super Powers in that far-from-cosy duopoly depends on ever-more resources being devoted to weapons of Mass Domination or Destruction.

Since my schooldays, I have been aware of the argument "so many things that have been invented to wage war have led to "spin-offs" used by the general public to improve their daily lives."

I can recall a claim that heat-resistant cookery dishes had been a by-product of designing the skins of space capsules to withstand the extreme temperatures of re-entry in to the Earths atmosphere.

I do not have proof that claim is true, but I DO know that sanitary napkins were originally invented by Benjamin Franklin as a means of stopping wounded soldiers from bleeding.

Which brings me to another investment we need on this planet before we waste even more money trying in vain to conquer space.

Today, 250 years since Ben Franklin first invented the sanitary napkin, only 18% of women in India have access to the product. Put another way, that's around 400 million women who struggle to cope with their periods each month because they do not have access to such basic life-style support. Included in that number are the millions of girls who give up their education each year when they go through puberty and their periods start.

If we cannot afford to solve this kind of practical problem so many humans face, then we certainly shouldn't be spending money so that a few people can leave the Earths atmosphere for a very short time. 

So with apologies to Ben and Elon, I remain unconvinced that wars or the Space Race bring counterbalancing spin-off benefits to either the planet or the general public.




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