This is Part 4 of a six-part response to Visions, Ventures, and Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures, which is available for free from Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination thanks to a grant from NASA. I say “response” and not “review” because I intend to engage with the ideas presented from my own point of view.
Section IV of VVEV is entitled Exoplanets, and contains one short story and two essays:
Shikasta, by Vandana Singh
The New Science of Astrobiology, by Sara Imari Walker
Negotiating the Values of Space Exploration, by Emma Frow
This is Part 1 of a six-part response to Visions, Ventures, and Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures, which is available for free from Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination thanks to a grant from NASA. I say “response” and not “review” because I intend to engage with the ideas presented from my own point of view.
Section I of VVEV is entitled Low Earth Orbit, and contains two short stories and three essays:
Vanguard 2.0, by Carter Scholtz
Reflections on the Dual Uses of Space Innovation, by G. Pascal Zachary
Mozart on the Kalahari, by Steven Barnes
Past Empires and the Future of Colonization in Low Earth Orbit, by William K. Storey
Expanding Our Solution Space: How We Can Build an Inclusive Future, by Deji Bryce Olukotun
The podcast Arjun’s Arrow has set the following principles for itself:
provide a message through the grassroots
spread information through education
revive the human spirit through knowledge of self
I was honored to be the second-ever interview guest of Arjun Collins, host of Arjun’s Arrow, a good friend, and former colleague. Check out this audio interview of me about Red Soil Through Our Fingers. We had a great conversation about economic exploitation, engineered environments, genetically engineered crops, the need for a strong public space policy, and how the exploration of space can help us develop technology for sustainable living here on Earth.
Post a comment and subscribe (either here or on Arjun’s Arrow) and I hope you enjoy the dialogue.
On the surface, private property rights in space may seem like an innocuous, or even positive development. We are on the cusp of a real space age, as private companies begin exploring Earth orbit and our solar system. As a species, we need to come to an agreement over how space assets will be managed and regulated, and private property rights in space would be a major needed component of such an agreement. In general, commercial enterprise in space is good thing for expanding humanity’s reach into the solar system.
But the actual text of this bill raises questions of equity and corporate oversight for humanity’s future in space. The bill is a clear violation of a decades-old treaty that pledges to make space the peaceful domain of all of humanity. Without additional oversight, this law could legally change the role of the United States in space from guarantor of freedom to protector of profit.
I find the issues raised by the law timely, as my upcoming novel Red Soil through Our Fingers that imagines a future Mars where corporations own vast stretches of Mars.
Dr. Linda Billings has published an article entitled “The Inexcusable Jingoism of American Spaceflight Rhetoric” in Scientific American’s Forum. I read the article with great interest, because I find myself on both sides of her argument. On the one hand, human expansion into space is happening, whether we like it or not, and regardless of any government program’s mission statement. Where previous generations perhaps imagined the push into space driven by big national programs, we are seeing now that it is likely to be corporations or private interests staking claims out there at least as much as governments. In fact, multiple companies have already declared near-term space intentions such as orbital tourism, mining lucrative asteroids, extracting fresh water and hydrocarbons, and settling on the Moon and Mars.
But here is where Dr. Billings is absolutely correct: We need to make sure our expansion into space results in an equitable, sustainable, and responsible distribution of the truly staggering amount of resources right here in our own solar system. And that will definitely require a cultural shift in how we talk about spaceflight.