We can get
nostalgic and name it the Enterprise
and we can also talk about going where no human has gone before, but at some
point we need to settle down and think. What we will think about is the design,
development and deployment of a starship-based space exploration system.  Again, I stress, this is not a Star Trek reality program.  I am talking about something far bigger and
more versatile. It is a major, space-age concept of human space exploration.

 

Starship in
this case is both a very large, very accommodating and powerful craft as well
as an operational philosophy. Space-age, as used in this discussion, represents
the results of a well formulated international space policy. This policy is the
product of a joint, international effort by government, scientific, and
technical representatives.  The policy
has a 10 century development and exploration plan. Yes, a 1000 year commitment
to the serious exploration of our solar system and beyond.  Anything less is, at best, timidly tepid.

 

Key elements of the plan: The plan
is made up of five principal objectives all of which are directly relevant to
our exploration of near and distant space. 
The objectives are:

 

  1. The
    creation of an International Space Congress:
    This
    is not just a deliberative body, it is the governing organization over all
    space related scientific and exploratory activities of the citizens of
    planet Earth.  Nothing ventures out
    and away from Earth into both near and deep space without it being an activity
    sponsored by the Congress.  This is
    true even for all of the many private sector ventures that are fully
    encouraged, authorized and often partially financed by the Congress.
  2. Planet
    Earth Preservation and Conservation:
    As has been discussed
    in preliminary documents, planet Earth at this time is humankind’s only
    prime source of the natural resources, science and technology needed to
    support an extended exploration of outer space. If we fail to preserve and
    protect this vital resource then we stand to totally cripple our
    exploratory ambitions and our future.
  3. Collaborative
    Research and Development Goals for all Science and Technology:
    In
    those days when nations vied with each other over territorial and
    political control, scientific and technical research and development was
    rarely shared. In fact it was regularly used as a tool of “one-upmanship”
    or “gotchas” that boosted one nation’s standings in the world order.  Sometimes this was stunning and enabling
    in that it ignited creative competitions that moved us forward, but
    generally, at best we simply kept an awkward pace with the cosmos.  Conjoining the entire technological and
    scientific prowess of the world into a collaborative effort will open so
    many new windows of revelation and opportunity that we will be challenged
    to simply keep pace with it all. In so doing, we will be motivated to extend
    all of humankind out into the deepest environs of the universe.  We are, at last, beginning to fulfill
    our existence.
  4. Design,
    development and deployment of the International Starship “Beagle II”:
    The
    purpose of this exploratory system is to carry forward an in-depth exploration
    of every planetary body in our Solar System. Like its famous predecessor
    it shall carry scientist-explorers to these areas so that they may begin
    to assess every detail associated with each planetary body.  The search for life in all its known and
    yet to be discovered forms will be a major objective of this mission.
    Habitability, with respect to human colonization will also be a major
    investigative goal.  Please visit the following link to see
    the envisioned spacecraft design and operational objectives:
    http://bit.ly/1Mhfwd. Most
    importantly, “Beagle II” is the virtual operational base for all of these
    Solar System explorations.  As such
    it shall be both the home and the launch point for its research
    community. 
  5. The
    launching of deep-space exploratory missions to be designated exosolar
    systems:
    Earth’s humankind must reach out beyond our home solar
    system and eventually even beyond our parent galaxy.  When we do, we will revitalize and fully
    honor those famous words: “do not be frightened for we come in peace.”
    Peace, this time, is an expression of reality, not a dream or false
    promise.  We have mastered it and
    put it to work for each and every one of us.  It has brought us the power and unity
    that enables us to move onward and outward. We are one, we are the
    citizens of planet Earth.

 

Discussion: Well can we really do this?  Actually we have no choice. If we wish to
insure our continuing existence and to also fulfill our true destiny then it is
a must.  In these present times, we would
refer to it as a “YES WE CAN” opportunity and obligation. There is magic here.
If humankind decides to focus on the five plan elements above, then we will
have also committed ourselves to making peace a total, and very functional
reality.  “YES WE CAN.”

 

Space, that
immense territory of amazing mystery and challenge now demands our attention.
This, again, is part of the fulfillment of human purpose. If we decide to
disagree or ignore this challenge then we place ourselves in a terminal
state.  This is not new. As we will find
out, if we agree to explore space, there have been other civilizations out
there that have essentially opted out of their futures.  Who knows, it could be that we are the very
last to have the opportunity to extend humankind into the universe.  Obviously this document is screaming out:
“Don’t drop the ball.”

 

Please, let
your imagination run unfettered. 
Consider all of the developments and human enrichment that will occur as
we undertake this effort.  Oh yes, there
will be challenges, frustrations, and, sadly, loss of life in the process.  Since, however, we are operating in unity,
those losses are no longer a singular grief, we all share and in sharing we
impart both compassion and strength.  We
emerge stronger and more resolute. We repeat the mantra: “we are citizens of
planet Earth.”

 

Conclusion:  I hope you will forgive my quoting myself as
the conclusion to this essay.  In a blog
article I wrote entitled “Sailing the Celestial Sea”  (http://bit.ly/1sWCuI)
on this same subject, I ended it with the following concluding comment.

 

The
above is not going to be an easy process, and there are many out there who
rather shoot NASA down than realize that NASA and its industrial/scientific
partners are one of the key elements of both our growth and future stability.
 Space is the next (not the last) frontier and we are a nation that has
built itself upon our exploring past frontiers.  It has worked well, and
this time we stand to move humankind far more forward and beneficially than has
ever been done before. Most importantly, the new partnership is an
international one that is far more comprehensive than the ones NASA has now.
This extends that growth and stability factor around the world.  In short,
it spells FUTURE.

 

Now,
who among us wants to deny the future?  Come aboard and let’s go sailing.
The universe awaits us.