It's Time for Us to Become a Spacefaring Species

Establishing a colony on Mars would protect the long-term survival of the human race.

Stephen Petranek: The reason we need to travel to Mars and to establish a civilization on Mars is to protect the long-term survival of the human species. We need to become a spacefaring society and eventually we need to move far beyond Mars — not only from our own solar system, but into other solar systems within this galaxy and other solar systems in other galaxies. We are making wonderful progress finding other Earth-like planets and we will continue to find many of those in the future.

Eventually the human species is going to disappear. That means everyone who’s a human being will die eventually and this species will die out and go extinct. And there are a number of reasons how that could happen and why that could happen including a large asteroid hits Earth and destroys everything larger than a rabbit as happened in the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago or eventually our sun begins to die and that is a 100 percent probability our sun will begin to die in about 2 billion years. And one of two things will happen. Either Earth will be thrown completely out of its orbit and go spinning off into space and everyone will die very quickly. Or the sun will essentially irradiate Earth as it expands because what happens with a dying sun is it gets very large. And so in order to survive as a species we have to become a spacefaring species. We have to get off this planet eventually and that is the long-term hope for humanity.

Mars is the most habitable place in our solar system by far. And even though it’s an incredibly hostile environment, we’ve developed the technology over the last 50 years to survive on Mars and to survive quite readily. So Mars is a wonderful first step. It’s where we go to learn how to go farther. Elon Musk says he will land on Mars in 2025. We’ve had, he and I have had a number of — several conversations about this. He’s more optimistic than I am and he’s one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever met. I’m very optimistic, but he’s more optimistic than I am. So I am in the discussion with him about a timeframe and when a SpaceX rocket or two might land on Mars. We kind of came to the conclusion that maybe we should say 2027. In other words, give him a two-year fallback. But he specifically says and I quote him on this in the book that he will be extremely disappointed if a SpaceX rocket has not landed on Mars by 2030. And I think that’s quite reasonable. I’d give 90 percent odds to a betting person that a SpaceX rocket will land on Mars before 2030.

 

Establishing a colony on Mars would protect the long-term survival of the human race. At some point, we're going to need to become a spacefaring species. There's no better time than now to get started.

Stephen Petranek is a journalist and author of a new book titled How We'll Live on Mars. Fittingly, he's here to tell us not just how we'll live on Mars, but also why and when. The why? As mentioned, we need to get off this rock sooner or later. The when? Within 15 years.


Live on Thursday: Learn innovation with 3-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn

Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

3 cognitive biases perpetuating racism at work — and how to overcome them

Researchers say that moral self-licensing occurs "because good deeds make people feel secure in their moral self-regard."

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash
Personal Growth

Books about race and anti-racism have dominated bestseller lists in the past few months, bringing to prominence authors including Ibram Kendi, Ijeoma Oluo, Reni Eddo-Lodge, and Robin DiAngelo.

Keep reading Show less

Only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease

Yet 80 percent of respondents want to reduce their risk of dementia.

Photo: Lightspring / Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A new MDVIP/Ipsos survey found that only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Eighty percent of respondents said they want to reduce their risks.
  • An estimated 7.1 million Americans over the age of 65 will suffer from Alzheimer's by 2025.
Keep reading Show less

A new minimoon is headed towards Earth, and it’s not natural

Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.

Credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Paitoon Pornsuksomboon/Shutterstock/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • Small objects such as asteroids get trapped for a time in Earth orbit, becoming "minimoons."
  • Minimoons are typically asteroids, but this one is something else.
  • The new minimoon may be part of an old rocket from the 1960s.
  • Keep reading Show less

    US, Russia, China won't join global initiative to offer fair access to COVID-19 vaccines. Why not?

    The U.S., China, and Russia are in a "vaccine race" that treats a global challenge like a winner-take-all game.

    Coronavirus
  • More than 150 countries have joined an initiative to develop, produce, and fairly distribute an effective COVID-19 vaccine.
  • But China, Russia, and the U.S. have declined to join in a bid to win the vaccine race.
  • The absence of these three economies risks the success of the global initiative and future collaborations.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast