It doesn’t matter if you are a billionaire or NASA, you are sure to hear criticism of your space exploration intentions and achievements.
Today we saw the space flight, of the New Shepard NS-16 mission , of the private company Blue Origin , owned by Jeff Bezos .If that name sounds familiar to you, it is not only because today it has been very present on the Internet, but also because this billionaire is also the founder of Amazon himself .
Perhaps that is one of the reasons why there has been so much criticism about this short space flight, which took its four crew members 100 kilometers above sea level, surpassing the Kármán line : the boundary between the atmosphere and outer space.
It is true that the criticism of this manned suborbital flight test has in part to do with Bezos’ fortune and his decision to spend money on something like that, but it also goes a little further.
Whether it is a flight paid for with private money, like the other Richard Branson did , or the NASA missions, it is common for us to hear the question resonate: why is not that money spent on Earth, if we have so many problems here ?.
We do not do one thing to abandon the other
The reason behind the question that questions all kinds of space exploration is not invalid.
It is true that we have many problems on Earth: climate change, plastic pollution, pandemic, just to name a few.
But, being in favor of spending money, public or private, on space travel, does not mean that these problems are denied, nor that one thinks that one thing takes precedence over the other.
To think like this is to fall into the logical fallacy of the false dilemma : in which for a problem or situation there are only two possible solutions, when in reality the answer is much more complex and involves more options.
Why don’t we think that we can explore space and also solve the world’s problems? And we have.
During these pandemic months, in 2020 and 2021, space exploration did not stop and at the same time resources were dedicated around the world to develop vaccines against covid-19. Several of them were made in China , a country that also sent a rover to explore Mars.
Space exploration can solve problems on Earth
This is not an idea taken from science fiction, nor a utopia: all around us every day we have examples of that.
Just today, we celebrate another milestone in space exploration that undoubtedly left its mark on humanity: the arrival of human beings on the Moon in 1969.
That event undoubtedly marked our history, but also its legacy is present even in our daily lives.
From cordless vacuum cleaners to athletic shoe soles and water purification systems – many of these technologies were developed for space travel.
And undoubtedly in a few decades we will have other technological transfers of space exploration in our hands.
Humans are explorers
Without a doubt, space exploration requires a large investment in science and technology: not only in material resources, but in humans.
Astronauts are perhaps the most visible part of such a trip, in this case Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, aviator Wally Funk and student Oliver Daemen.
On this occasion, these last two crew members also set the records for the oldest person in space (82 years old) and the youngest (18 years old).
And people, we want to go to space, because human beings are a kind of explorers, as Carl Sagan said :
“Exploration is in our nature. We started out as nomads, and we remain nomads. We have spent quite some time on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are finally ready to sail towards the stars