Sorry, but this blog is not about intergalactic sports. PEP
for this discussion is an acronym representing: Preservation, Exploration, and
Pioneering. This Talk seeks to address the logical and essential steps that, in
my opinion, must occur if future generations are to successfully venture into
deep space.

Preservation:
Our home, planet Earth is vital to many thousands of years of both human and
robotic explorations of our solar system and our galaxy.  It is vital because it remains the best
equipped with science, technology, human-power, financing and natural resources
than any other accessible place in the entire Universe. In fact, at the moment,
as far as we know it is the only place with all these assets. As a wannabe,
space-faring nation we need all of these resources, therefore, we must
carefully protect and preserve them.

Preservation includes the standard ecological measures, but
it also must attend to the care and nurturing of us.  We need to grow even stronger and
healthier.  Most importantly we need to
grow much smarter, especially in science and technology. Lastly we must become
increasingly space aware. This goes beyond amateur astronomy to include a sound
understanding of both astrophysics and astrobiology and how these sciences
relate to our very existence.

Finally, we must actively protect our planet from potential
terrestrial and celestial damage. Monitoring and reporting is not enough. This
is particularly important in the case of Near Earth Objects.  In these cases, we must perfect and put into
effect interdictory mechanisms that will, in a timely manner, divert deadly
impacts from either asteroids or comets. If we do not do this then all of our
space faring efforts stand to be for naught as we are demolished by a near
earth object.

Exploration:  Exploration of our solar system and beyond is
already in process, but for it to be sustained and expanded we must first have
in place an active preservation program as described above. If we fail to do
this then our exploratory efforts are, at best, feeble. Earth First is not a
fringe group-motto; it is a mandate for successful and sustained space
exploration.

Within the context of this blog discussion, exploration does
not imply colonization. The exception, of course, would be the construction of
base sites in support of our exploratory efforts.  Plans to terra-form vast areas of another
planetary site followed by colonization should not, in my view, be a part of
any exploration program. To do so would be both a distraction and a
misdirection of our space exploration goals.

Exploration goals, as mentioned above should concentrate on
exploring. Those programs involving human spaceflight are essentially focused
on our solar system.  Programs that seek
to explore our galaxy, the Milky Way, and beyond must use, for now, robotic
spacecraft that include space telescopes and associated sensors.

There is much to learn, especially within our own solar
system. Human exploration of the planets, especially Mars, will enable us to
determine if any of them could artificially support future colonization.  Artificial support implies terra-forming, and
we may find from our explorations that Mars may not support a vast
terra-forming program. We need to know this in detail and is thus a key
objective or our human exploration of Mars. This same kind of assessment could
be conducted on other planets within our solar system, but it is unlikely that
we will find other good candidates.  This
is the exact exploratory feedback that we need. 
This feedback will directly impact our future space program goals.  Earth First could easily become an even more
critical mandate.

In addition to assessing Mars and the other planets, we need
to fully explore the asteroid belt both from a defensive standpoint, and as a
potential source of a variety of natural resources.  Again, exploratory efforts simply assess and
report, but those reports could stimulate future efforts to extract vital resources
from asteroids.  This same research will
reveal vital information that enables us to better defend Earth from wayward
asteroids and other Near Earth Objects.

Future deep space explorations are going to be directly
affected by what our current Kepler, Corot, WISE and many other spacecraft
research programs produce in their search for Earth-like planetary bodies. In
all cases the distances are immense and so we must rely on a variety of
innovative space astrometry techniques to enrich our growing database.  Of course, new developments in spacecraft design;
robotics and propulsion systems will directly affect future travel by both
robots and humans.

All of the above requires considerable commitment of funds,
science and technology to successfully explore our celestial
neighborhoods.  Exploration therefore
demands an equally considerable human leadership commitment to make it all
happen.

Pioneering:
Whenever I come across this word, my mind is filled with visions of tough,
courageous, imaginative and innovative humans striking out across wilderness
regions in search of the promise of opportunity and a better life.  In almost all cases these pioneers follow the
pathways established by equally brave, curious and resourceful explorers.  This will certainly be the eventual course
for our space-faring society.

Throughout human history, pioneers have not only broken and
settled upon new ground, but have brought with them elements of their past
localities and cultures which are important structural elements in the
colonization of a new world.  The
heritage from Earth, once we colonize another planetary body, is vital, especially
since our migration is due in large part to our successful application of the
Earth First protocol.  Those perseveration
and conservation activities must be a part of our behaviors in our new
world.  In doing so, we have not
abandoned our lovely blue planet; we are now implanting its goodness in our new
home. So love, without sad longing, goes on as humankind boldly steps forward
into an entirely new evolutionary era.

Lastly, as pioneers we may, just like our ancestors, meet
other life forms and cultures. Hopefully, if we have really followed our Earth
First practices we will avoid cultural clashes and instead rejoice with the
knowledge that we are not alone in this vast, glorious, and mystifying
Universe.