Will we do it at some point anyway or do we need to be trying a lot harder now to achieve it? On a similar note, does planetary protection of Mars matter? Should we be THIS careful, or should we just go up there and explore in the hopes of colonizing it someday and nevermind what is there now? 

My own thought is that a) we need to be trying harder and b) we can be careful enough to explore what is up there initially (just in case some alien form of life is right under our noses- we don't want to miss it), but our MAIN goal should be colonization. At some point we need to forget planetary protection and start colonizing!

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Mrina and SGecko is right, words are just a form of expression, the only gringe factor in them is what you put. But the message is clear. We NEED to and HAVE to move forward with exploration and colonization. I believe something significant will happen to the human population well before the overpopulation problem manifests out of control. Or even because of it before it does. Now don't get me wrong, I don't believe in the 2012 or any other religious prophocies, but because of human nature and the current political/economic/enviromental issues something will come to head soon to put a dent in this over population problem. And I believe the US will be the in center of it and most likely the big loser in the end. We do currently have the tech to proceed with colonization of the moon and to build better and larger space stations. What we don't have is global cooperation to commence with such projects.

Eric Harris

US may have the tech to start colonising space but it will take a long long time to have the finances required for the same. The colonisation will also start a new space war, as it happened before and the world once again will be wasting precious resources a bit too soon if the race is started now.

We'll either colonize space or eventually become extinct.  Colonization of space doesn't necessarily exempt us from going extinct, it just improves our odds for long term survival.

The irony is that we're the only species (on earth) that has the capacity to evade extinction, but we're also the only one that can potentially cause our own extinction.

I have two ideas I would like to pose here. First, humans have the potential to destroy ourselves using our technology, but in the same breath, our technology will allow us to survive on Earth for I hope millions of years.

Science cannot stop because someone, somewhere on this Earth will always be smart enough to fund it. Given that, science is only as good as the questions we put to it to answer. One question that is looming over the horizon is overpopulation. Overpopulation, I suggest, has it's own gruesome solution: Starvation of the weakest.  We WILL reach an equilibrium: the number of people possible to be supported by the Earth with our current level of technology. That will not be changed by people in space except for an introduction of new technology from people in space or the Earth.

Second, space colonization is beneficial to humans on Earth in many ways, economically, technologically, politically.

Trade of materials found in other bodies in the Solar system will boost the economy both in space and on Earth. That trade could change over the millenia. Depending on what our current technology uses as materials go, will drive the trade economy and the trade will be regulated by politics. The consideration of extraterrestrial life is secondary. We probably would only consider it only from the perspective of "can it harm us?"

 

I never cared for the term 'manifest destiny.' It simply carries too much religious baggage to be useful.

I don't see space exploration as manifest destiny. I see space exploration as biological imperative. All living things are driven to reproduce and expand until they fill their environment. This drive extends from the smallest virus to the largest animal. The drive pushes the limits of sustainability until the environment itself forces limitation. Even when the organism escapes from the original environment the organisms which remain don't stop expanding. In fact, they keep right on going. Humans are no different.

Enough members of the human species aren't going to be leaving the planet. Most of them don't even want to. However, the ones that do will expand into space and just keep going. The ones left behind will just keep doing that they always do -- reproducing, consuming and being limited by environment.

I don't want humans to explore space to save the planet. I don't want humans to explore space to provide a pressure release for population growth. I want humans to explore space because humans want to explore space. I don't think any other explanation is given and such explanation given is going to seem like rationalization to other humans.

Why do we explore space? We explore space because we want to.

Why do we explore space? We explore space because we want to.

I have a great trust in man's intelligence. Humanity may appear to be heading for disaster, but man's ingenuity and survival instinct will save humanity on earth. Although the population problem seems to be a great challenge presently, I think, man will act in a manner to avoid what we think will be a disaster. Pessimism is uncalled for.

We are presently seeing far beyond moon amd mars, so obviously our intention is not colonisation. As Dee Neely says, we explore space because we want to. Similarly, we will colonise space because because we wii want to and not because we will need to.

The mastery of space/time should be our(humans) number one priority.  We need to figure out how to travel efficiently through space and begin to unravel the mysteries of the Universe.  Too few of us on the planet even care for this and of the ones that do, too few of them have the means to do so properly. 

Some of our leaders excuses are that it is too costly and/or dangerous to even go to the moon, but I bet if you asked the "worker", ie the astronauts and scientists, they would be willing to give up their entire fortunes and their lives to further explore the galaxy.  I know I would.  To put it simply, religion and greed is what stands to stop our evolution into the stars.  Until it's okay to have a non-theist in charge I dont see us as a species going anywhere but backward. 

Our(USA) space program is all but extinct.  Our leaders believe that God is going to save us and his "plan" is mysterious, but we should have faith.  This will be our demise.  We aren't going into space to colonize because those that rule this Earth think these outrageous things.  I've always said that if put into a life and death situation, when the "God Fearing" peoples began to put my life in harms way by relying on Faith I would be forced to take drastic action in order to ensure our safety.  Sadly, the ones that are jeopardizing our lively hood are the ones that run the world.

With that said, I'm sure our future is doomed because we are all waiting on the second coming of Jesus Christ instead of taking control of our own futures.  All we can do is try and be good to one another and hope that one day their blind eyes will be opened and we can continue to evolve into a great Universal community.

I think one of the last hopes we (US) have is that although NASA has declined in recent years, there are a few independant space corporations that have been able to operate.  While I dislike the Corporations, and shudder about what their involvement will mean long-term if the national space administrations don't receive more funding and attention, I have to acknowledge that the private sector may be revitalizing the prospect of space travel.  A mixed blessing at best, I know.  But if the private sector can prove continued interest and viability then the government may reevaluate the importance of space exploration.

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