Tuesday 15 December 2015

When Space Becomes a Home for all of Us

It's hard not to watch the launch of British astronaut Tim Peake into space without a complete sense of awe, and without feeling that everything else after it is completely mundane.

The splendidly retro and reliable technology of the Soyuz spacecraft and launch vehicle - both rooted in the 1960s, check out the way the rocket looks like it has flares on - successfully did their job on taking our plucky astronaut up to the International Space Station.

But what struck me while watching the launch, was the fact that space is still a place for the test pilot and the ultra clever scientist, the strong and the smart. The much admired Commander Mike Hadfield, the Marlboro Man looking guitar strummer of a previous mission, said as much during the BBC's launch coverage.

But for us to expand out from our overcrowded, polluted home, Space can't remain the preserve of the elites with big brains, or big wallets to pay for a trip on Virgin Galactic, forever. Sooner or later, we will need it to be a home for everyone.

Space will need shelf stackers, warehouse runners, toilet cleaners and plumbers to build a society up there. Cosmonaut Commander Bigballzikov won't want to waste his time tending the Martian base flowerbeds, he'll be wanting the municipal gardener to do it for him.  Captain Goldstein won't want to take out the garbage, and Doctor Fortescue-Blyth will blanch at idea of emptying the zero gravity toilet. There will be a need for bus drivers, teachers, speeder bike traffic wardens and folk to run the corner shop.

It won't be me of course, too old even now, as are indeed most people who are already born on this planet. But someday the adverts of Blade Runner, enticing the masses of Earth to the off world colonies, will be a reality. One day, there will be opportunities to be astronauts for all of us.


All text copyright CreamCrackeredNature 15.12.15

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