13 May 2008

Can Space Cooperation Lead to Space Security?

Inaugural Address by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Former President of India at the International Conference on Space Security
November 13, 2007
I firmly believe that space faring nations have the responsibility to put their efforts together to launch time bound financially shared programmes to take up societal missions in a large scale, pooling their capabilities in launch vehicles, spacecraft and applications....In such a situation, what can be the space security system need to be evolved? What are the real threat perceptions of humanity for the twenty first century?
The inequity in education and health care
The shortage of human resources both for skills and research throughout the world
The looming threat to environment
The depletion of resources – energy and water
Can these be managed by the conventional way of thinking that individual nations and group of nations have been engaged in? I firmly believe that space faring nations have the responsibility to put their efforts together to launch time bound financially shared programmes to take up societal missions in a large scale, pooling their capabilities in launch vehicles, spacecraft and applications. Such major cooperation itself will act a great measure of space security, in addition to empowering the most underprivileged, minimizing communication gaps and reducing threats for conflicts. We have to focus on mass missions like solar energy from space, desalination of seawater through solar energy, mass transportation of minerals from Moon and Mars, which is possible only when the cost of access to space is reduced drastically...With the background and strength of technological progress in Space systems in the world, I would suggest the World Space Community to evolve World Space Vision 2050 with the following three components:
Large Scale Societal missions and Low cost access to space.
Comprehensive space security
Space exploration and current application missions
A World Space Vision would enhance the quality of human life, inspire the spirit of space exploration, expand the horizons of knowledge and ensure space security for all nations of the world...There is definitely a need for space faring nations to work together to develop reusable launch vehicles, which can bring down the cost of payload in orbit from the present US $ 20,000 per kg to US $ 2000 per kg and eventually to $200 per kg...I have proposed Space Satellite Service Stations as an international venture to have Space Satellite Service Stations. We have to guard against any threat from asteroids and manmade debris...Now, let me visualize the space profile in 2050, with the focus of World Space Vision 2050, being steered by the World Space council.
A world, where all citizens will have equitable distribution of energy through solar power and solar powered satellites.
A world where all citizens even in the remotest parts will have electronic connectivity and knowledge connectivity through constellation of communication satellites.
A world where all citizens will have safe drinking water by the technologies of seawater desalination using solar power.
A clean planet earth through the use of solar energy from solar power satellite and power generated from helium-3 derived from Moon.
A Planet earth will have a clean industrial complex on Moon and an alternate habitat at Mars.
Planet earth will be transformed to prosperity without poverty, peaceful without fear of war and a happy place to live for the whole humanity using space technologies as one of the prime movers.
I am convinced that time has come for political leadership of space faring nations has to come together and adopt a world space vision.

11 May 2008

Stephen Hawkings: Isn't our future worth a quarter of a percent?

Why should we go into space? What is the justification for spending all that effort and money on getting a few lumps of Moon rock? Aren’t there better causes here on Earth?In a way, the situation is like that in Europe before 1492. People might well have argued that it was a waste of money to send Columbus on a wild goose chase. Yet the discovery of the New World made a profound difference to the old. If nothing else, we wouldn’t have had a Big Mac or KFC.Spreading out into space will have an even greater effect. It will completely change the future of the human race and maybe determine whether we have any future at all. It won’t solve any of our immediate problems on planet Earth, but it will give us a new perspective on them, and cause us to look outwards rather than inwards. Hopefully it would unite us to face a common challenge. This would be a long-term strategy, and by long-term I mean hundreds or thousands of years. We could have a base on the Moon within 30 years, reach Mars in 50 years, and explore the moons of the outer planets in 200 years. By “reach” I mean with manned, or should I say “personed,” space flight. We have already driven rovers on Mars and landed a probe on Titan, a moon of Saturn, but if one is considering the future of the human race we have to go there ourselves.Going into space won’t be cheap, but it would take only a small proportion of world resources. NASA’s budget has remained roughly constant in real terms since the time of the Apollo landings, but it has decreased from 0.3% of US GDP in 1970 to 0.12% now. Even if we were to increase the international budget 20 times to make a serious effort to go into space it would only be a small fraction of world GDP.There will be those who argue that it would be better to spend our money solving the problems of this planet like climate change and pollution rather than wasting it on a possibly fruitless search for a new planet. I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, but we can do that and still spare a quarter of a percent of world GDP for space. Isn’t our future worth a quarter of a percent?A new manned spaceflight program would do a lot to restore public enthusiasm for space and for science generally. Robotic missions are much cheaper and may provide more scientific information but they don’t catch the public imagination in the same way, and they don’t spread the human race into space, which I am arguing should be our long-term strategy....A goal of a base on the Moon by 2020 and of a manned landing on Mars by 2025 would re-ignite the space program and give it a sense of purpose in the same way that President Kennedy’s Moon target did in the 1960s.... It is not clear that intelligence confers a long-term survival advantage. Bacteria and insects will survive quite happily even if our so-called intelligence leads us to destroy ourselves...What about beyond the solar system? Our observations indicate that a significant fraction of stars have planets around them. So far, we can detect only giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn but it is reasonable to assume that they will be accompanied by smaller, Earth-like planets. Some of these will lie in the “Goldilocks” zone where the distance from the star is in the right region for liquid water to exist on their surface. There are around a thousand stars within 30 light years of Earth. If one percent of these have Earth-sized planets in the Goldilocks zone, we have 10 candidate new worlds. We can’t envisage visiting them with current technology, but we should make interstellar travel a long-term aim. By long-term, I mean over the next 200 to 500 years. The human race has existed as a separate species for about 2 million years. Civilization began about 10,000 years ago, and the rate of development has been steadily increasing. If the human race is to continue for another million years, we will have to boldly go where no one has gone before.

John Young: Deadly Serious Business

"Conclusion: The human race is at total war. Our enemy is ignorance, pure and simple. The last 25 years of NASA's Solar System exploration including Earth is telling us what we need to do topre serve our species. This new knowledge is useless unless we act on it. Large volcanoes on Earth, giant impacts on Earth, or unreliable solar activity cannot be ignored. Historical statistics show thatthese events are likely in our lifetimes or the lifetimes of our children and grand children. Knowing what we know now, we are being irresponsible in our failure to make the scientific and technical progress we will need for protecting our newly discovered severely threatened and probably endangered species -- us. NASA is not about the 'Adventure of Human Space Exploration,' we are in the deadly serious business of saving the species. All Human Exploration's bottom line is about preserving our species over the long haul."