Brendan O. Michigan

Space Research and Development

Recently many Americans have been deterred from space R&D. Many say it is too expensive, dangerous, or improbable, however, there are many missed opportunities and dangers that lie in not expanding space research and development.

Dear Mr. or Mrs. President,

    Recently many Americans have been deterred from space R&D. Many say it is too expensive, dangerous, or improbable, however, there are many missed opportunities and dangers that lie in not expanding space research and development. We lose opportunities to grow offworld colonies and spaceport manufacturing, hostile nations are developing space technology at an alarming rate; closing the gap the U.S. made more than half a century ago, we are losing out on the opportunity to mine rare minerals and elements from asteroids in our solar system, the human race remains constricted to a single planet; unable to leave in case of disaster or destruction and we limit and endanger our ideals and values of democracy and freedom tied to Earth. 

    First of all, our offworld colonies and spaceports would be capable of building manufacturing facilities relying on coal. This can and would, eliminate the loss of jobs and poverty that coal miners face, while simultaneously building a stronger atmosphere on a colonized world. Many would claim that it is “immoral” or “ethically wrong” to have children be born on these foreign worlds as they “wouldn’t have a choice”. Furthermore some have other objections, and claim this to be impossible; no human could go to another planet and survive long enough to build a manufacturing facility. These individuals are wrong. The idea that it is an ethical concern to have children born on foreign planets is absurd. What choice do any of us have that we are born on Earth? None, and we are okay with it because that is all we have ever known, and it is undoubtable that these children would feel the same. Furthermore, robots that are already used by NASA could construct a basic facility, which could then be manned by the new colonists upon their arrival. These facilities can be crude constructions, giving off large amounts of CO2 and methane, as it will thicken the weak atmosphere, allowing for a sustainable, Earth-like atmosphere to be created. Once again some would challenge this idea, calling it too hard to control, risky and ineffective. Individuals who agree with this statement rightfully state that it would be impossible to create a 100% replica of Earth’s atmosphere. Once again, these individuals would be wrong, in the sense that they fail to see it doesn’t need to be perfect. We have undoubtedly made mistakes with Earth, but despite that we can use those mistakes and learn from them. Upon reaching an Earth-like atmosphere, strict regulations requiring upgrades to reduce CO2 could be implemented, and wildlife plants could be introduced to lower CO2 in the atmosphere. At this point, probably 50-100 years after founding the colony, the colonists will be sufficient enough to make the needed upgrades. This is not the only reason to grow space research and development however, and some reasons are darker than others. 

    While manufacturing boosts are nice, they are not the only or most important reasons to invest in space R&D. Since America has gone to sleep in the recent decades in terms of space R&D, hostile and competitor nations have been closing the gap made by America fifty some years ago. As recently reported by countless news networks, China’s military-backed program has made, “methodical progress,” as reported by FOX news in particular, in a relatively short time. This can be seen as two Chinese astronauts have just been launched for thirty days to stay on an experimental space station, making it China’s longest trip or rather stay in space. Russia has also made significant progression in America’s absence. Recently the Russians launched an almost covert rocket, and as only one TV station was allowed to broadcast it, and it was miles away from the launch site, it was little more than a streak in the sky. This launch site was new, cost billions of dollars, had multiple launch pads, a train station, it’s own mini-city of 30,000, a control center, an assembly/processing complex and thousands of workers. Why Russia built this new ‘space base’ is not known, other than the fact that the Russian government has said it would save them from paying 150 million a year to rent their current base, even though at a cost of 11.5 billion, it would take 76 years to save Russia money, at which point it would be technologically outdated. Their secrecy should be a cause for concern considering these facts, especially since a base of this size would have a maintenance cost far exceeding 150 million a year. Some may say that Russia simply wants a larger station, and this may be true. However, this base could easily equip weaponry onto or transport weapons to a space station by rocket, which could then be used in warfare. Additionally due to it’s size and time period it was built in, it is very possibly the most technological and largest station built in the world. America hasn’t even come close, and the clock is ticking before America goes from a super power to an oppressed country. The opportunity has a timeframe, and if America fails to get in, it risks getting kicked down by a more advanced enemy, with more technological advantages and resources.  

    Space mining is a highly profitable and useful investment. It is estimated that even the smallest asteroids, readily available in our solar system, contain trillions of dollars worth of Iron, Copper, Lead, water, Platinum and other resources. There are already countless companies of multiple nationalities planning to start mining these highly profitable asteroids, as well as countless plans on how to follow through with the idea. Recently, many have voiced concerns of the legitimacy and true profitability of space mining, yet analysis of the smallest type of asteroid, the “O-type”, would contain enough resources to be valued at 18.5 trillion dollars, and Congress has passed a law in the right direction by legalizing space mining. These resources would be very useful to the corresponding company’s nation, as it would lower building, fuel, and military costs. This would ultimately spur the economy from military fuel usage and cost of tanks to the building homes. The results will be that manufacturing companies make more money, which they can then use to grow their company, hiring more people and raising wages, as they will be making more. These space mining companies are working on tests as much as possible, but lack the technology to effectively carry out any methods of asteroid mining is slowing the process substantially. However, the U.S. could fund technological development for more efficiency, and the rewards would be worth the cost. Either way, as Earth’s rare resources become less common, we will become dependent on foreign companies to supply us with what we don’t have.

    Human dependency on Earth is shockingly high, with no current routes for escape in the event of disaster or destruction, and no current external sources of resources. Regardless of the cause or event, global warming or nuclear war, the human race has nowhere to go to escape. Some would say this is an impossibility, that the theory of MAD would prevent anyone from ever launching a nuclear weapon, or that rising sea-levels pose no threat to human existence. This is true, in some respect, for both cases. Whereas neither pose a risk to the human species’s survival, either would undoubtedly kill millions to even billions, and uproot millions more. These countless people can’t simply walk into another state, or country, it would be overwhelming. A growing offworld colony, however, would welcome the refugees with open arms, as their system could handle a large influx as it would only have around 30 to 50 thousand people at the time. This idea is blocked though, by the outdated 1967 Outer Space treaty signed 50 odd years ago, banning both military and civilians from, “claiming” off-world territories in the name of a country. As such in order to start a off-world colony, the U.S. would have to break this treaty. Furthermore, the benefits far outweigh that of slight anger from fellow treaty signers, one of which being Russia, even though they are becoming more and more secretive of their launches themselves. In order to protect our freedoms and way of life, we must compete and fight if necessary, with those who would seek to take it from us.

    Finally, our ability to keep our ideals and rights safe means we have to get a foothold in space before our enemies do, as allowing them to become a space power gives them an unbeatable advantage. If Russia had a space station in orbit around Earth armed with WMD’s, what more could we do than bicker and eventually give in to their demands? Nothing. Plain and simple. We couldn’t touch the enemy without drawing their wrath. And what stops this from occurring? A treaty older than many people are now and for that matter, even know about. America is a country of doers and patriotism rivaled by only that of the Romans. That wouldn’t matter though. We could fight all we wanted, as hard as we could, but we wouldn’t be able to win. Therefore America needs to dominate Earth’s atmosphere first. This stance has been highly criticized by many, and rightly so, calling it everything from immoral and rash to the foothold for a dictatorship. They are completely right. It would be rash, immoral and dangerous to our ideals to simply build such a powerful weapon. However these ideals will be lost if Russia gains the upperhand as well, and our government isn’t already a dictatorship or rash or immoral, we can make laws and a prevention system before a station even leaves Earth. The U.S. is the only nation in the world free enough to handle this responsibility, and just as with atomic power, it is our destiny to control it, or should we slack on it’s development, lose because of it’s power. Only then can we protect our ideals, and force large super power bullies like that of Russia from pushing little countries around, or for that matter, even the U.S. This is far from saying the U.S. should “conquer Earth,” but it does allow for the U.S. to protect the rights of it’s people and the rights of the citizens of the world, without need of actual fighting, a new type of MAD theory, of which only the U.S. had control.

    To conclude, I would first like to thank you for your time, and wish you the best of luck, regardless of which candidate wins. I hope that you will take the recommendations in this essay seriously, and will try to advance America’s space technology as much as you can. It offers us a cure for our debt, the security of our freedoms, minerals and economic booms, the defense of the defenseless, and most importantly, it will go down in history as the reason humans survived past Earth, as well as the individual who made it happen. That person will be you, and regardless of what I’ve said to you through this short essay on such a big issue, the decision is yours to make, because I don’t have the power to make it happen, and neither does a vast majority of Americans. That’s why they elected you, because they cannot handle that power themselves, they trust you to do so for them.