Space Tourist Dennis Tito on the International Space Station — harbinger of things to come?

What Do We Really “Need” From Space?

Posted on December 29, 2012 by Paul Spudis

Because crepehanger thinking keeps cropping up – influencing mainstream writers and our national discourse, I want to share and comment on the Smithsonian Magazine’s latest Off the Road – The Travel Adventures of a Nomad on the Cheap post by blogger Alistair Bland, entitled Do we really need to take vacations in space? The principal thesis of his piece is that although space tourism may emerge as a new field of human endeavor, such activity is undesirable because of its high cost and carbon footprint impact on Earth (Bland adopts the idea of “1000 flights a year, spewing 600 metric tons of soot” into the atmosphere from this 2010 piece). The author indicates that (at least for himself) there are plenty of interesting places to explore (by walking and biking) right here on Earth. Although a self-described “travel adventurer,” Bland views space travel by the “extremely rich” as costly “science fiction” – dangerous to those participants, leading eventually to others following to exploit off-planet resources. He suggests that instead of space tourism, we need to invest our time, effort and money into figuring out how to live sustainably on this planet – be content enjoying the simple pleasures of biking, hiking and swimming here on Earth. I like biking, swimming and hiking and have indulged in all those activities, but I believe that we are on the threshold of learning to live and work productively in space – it isn’t an “either/or” situation.

Read more: What Do We Really “Need” From Space? | Spudis Lunar Resources.

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