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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Amen

We are at the dawn of a new colonial age. The growing space competition between nations is in many ways very reminiscent of the 19th century competition between the European powers to colonize Africa and the South Pacific. In the 1800s, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom aggressively competed to carve up the undeveloped world. The result was foreign-run colonies controlling most of the Third World, for both good and ill, for almost a century. -- Robert Zimmerman at UPI's Space Watch (Thanks to HobbySpace.com)
God I hope so. My wife did make the observation when the VSE started that it has less to do with a directionless NASA and more to do with China launching men into space. All I can say is, if it gets us off our butts, go China.

It makes me wonder, though. The US is talking about "[extending] a human presence across our solar system" and Japan is talking about "a base on the moon." And China's three phased moon plan ends in a sample return mission.

Nobody has been willing to say the "C" word. Well I will. We need to colonize the solar system where ever possible. It is an important word. As Bill White said in a comment on SpacePolitcs.com

Personally, I believe the s-word (settlement) or the less PC c-word (colony) would fire up public support for space exploration. I also believe anything LESS than settlement/colony will continue to leave the public yawning with the space-nuts facing annual cliff-hanger battles to pass skimpy NASA budgets.

If only President Bush had said "settlement" (as Griffin has in the past) rather than "presence" (which is ambiguous).

On that same thread, Greg Kuperberg, said

When you folks here suggest things like engineering and colonization as alternatives to science, you're onto something. If Bush or Griffin removed the Potemkin science from the VSE and made the missions -- not just the "goals" -- something else like colonization, then at least it wouldn't be a problem for scientists.

Columbus's second voyage was specifically for the "subjugation of the Taíno and the colonization of the region." Spain, and perhaps Europe as a whole, recognized the need for colonization, whatever their motives. The first colony in the "New World" was in Hispaniola, an island east of Cuba, founded in 1493. Spain began settling the New World one year after they first sailed there.

I understand it is not a perfect comparison. The America's did not have to be adapted to support human life. There were natives already there. He was not even the first European to get to the Americas. But, it was the first time most of Europe was aware of the existence of the continents in the western hemisphere.

Now I am not saying that we should have had a colony on the Moon in 1970, even though that would have been great. I am saying it has been 36 years since man stepped on the Moon, and we don't even have the begginings of a base.

Colonization is not a bad word. We are not supplementing Native Americans or island tribes. No one is out there. We need to be. I may be biased, but I would like the future civilizations of the solar system would be based on the values of freedom and enterprise.

Say the word. Be proud of it. Colonization!

10 comments:

Nyrath said...

"Go China!" indeed. I believe it was Robert Heinlein who said that there will be men in space, but they will not necessarily speak English.

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