“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
— Douglas Adams (1952-2001), The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
It’s easy while going about our daily lives and routines to forget to look upwards at what actually surrounds us—we are all on a giant rock floating through space, surrounded by other celestial bodies that are and have been within our reach, to research, examine, and one day—travel to.
While in more recent times people have turned their eyes away from the stars to try and seek solutions to their problems, I am adamant about my support of humankind’s space programs, both NASA and other countries’ ongoing missions, and what’s looking to be the privatization of the space industry that’s already beginning to happen. It’s easy to say that space “is a waste of time and money”, but such a statement is indeed a selfish and somewhat ignorant shortsightedness, as conquering space could greatly benefit humankind’s ultimate survival in the universe—in other words, the ultimate high ground (no, not this.)
Robert Heinlein may have said it best in 1961 when he said in a speech at the World Science Fiction Convention:
“Remember this: once the human race is established on more than one planet and especially, in more than one solar system, there is no way now imaginable to kill off the human race.”
William E. Burrows, of the Wall Street Journal, followed a similar sentiment in 2003:
“The question to ask is whether the risk of traveling to space is worth the benefit. The answer is an unequivocal yes, but not only for the reasons that are usually touted by the space community: the need to explore, the scientific return, and the possibility of commercial profit. The most compelling reason, a very long-term one, is the necessity of using space to protect Earth and guarantee the survival of humanity.”
Because when you really think about it, what other goals does humanity have other than trying to leave intact its own existence? As a species who have developed critical self-awareness, we have to continue exploring to avoid a fate similar to that of the dinosaurs or the countless other life that has now perished.
Eyes Turned Skyward
It would not, by any stretch of the imagination, be hyperbole to say that some of the most beautiful and soothing imagery to ever be delivered to the human eye has been that which we’ve captured from the depths of the final frontier.
“The universe, as far as we can observe it, is a wonderful and immense engine.”
—George Santayana (1863-1952), American philosopher and poet
If you are interested in seeing more photos like this, check out the HubbleSite’s photo galleries.