The Expanding Frontier

Rian Fantozzi, Editor-in-Chief

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I was pretty young when I went to my first star party. After driving a long way for five or six year old me, my dad and I arrived at the Dear Lakes Observatory and I met a whole crowd of people with their personal small telescopes. In the main building were two larger ones, and they were trained on the Moon and Jupiter.

Before I even entered that building, I noticed the Moon.

That is a universal experience we all share. Hard to fathom in a political age defined by division, tribalism, and inequity. This experience spans not only the social difference between classes, citizens of different countries, and every spot on the scale of privilege. It spans continents and centuries. It unites. At some point, we’ve all looked at, and noticed the Moon.

You thought it was particularly bright one night. That it was redder or bluer, you were surprised to see the moon during the day, or were one of the millions of Americans who traveled to see the Great American Eclipse.

We’ve all seen the Moon.

There is an industry in going to space. The American Apollo Space Program once employed 400,000 people. In the Soviet Union 500 enterprises and 26 government bureaus were tasked with going to the Moon. We’ve learned that all sorts of inventions like MRIs or velcro were invented for space travel, and returned to Earth to benefit the rest of us.

And yet, the people the world over did not watch spellbound as Neil Armstrong took the “one small step for a man” because they were excited about the new technologies developed as part of the Apollo program. They watched because they noticed the Moon too, and Neil went there.

Outer space is representative of a common border that all peoples, all countries, we all share. We’ve all seen the Moon.

This time, the return to manned space flight beyond low earth orbit will not be the embodiment of the ideological struggle between two nations. Instead both governments in cooperation with each other, and private countries, will take private citizens to space.

Space is more than a playground for governments and billionaires. It is an industry that touches all our lives. From space-based GIS systems to monitor crops and forest coverage to, the promise of cheap, fast, and global internet provided by SpaceX Starlink. The SpaceFund Reality Rating, lists 30 companies, ranging from Lockheed Martin to Goonhilly Earth Station, with a reality rating of 8 out of 10 or over in the field of beyond Earth communication (more on this later).

Space is more than an industry where we may some day work. Space is infinite. To try and grapple with the infinite depths of the universe, is to grapple with ourselves. Through study and exploration of the cosmos, we bring out the best in ourselves. We work together to explore. Through exploration we grow as a species.

In this age characterized by inequity, we have a chance to try again. We have a chance to work toward the Star Trek future I dreamed of as a kid. A space not characterized by scarcity. A space where a Russian could work with a Midwesterner. A space that made possible the first televised interracial kiss.

For the next year I aim to bring the news of this great void that is all of ours. News of the science getting done, business ventures that are being started and, how governments are reacting to these changes. Most of all, I (along with some guest writers) will be bringing you the human story of space exploration.

 

 

BEHIND THE STORY

  1. Why did we report on this?
    • Reporting about space is going to become a regular thing here. Space is no longer just for government exploration, it has become a financial sector, a strategic security area, and a place of hope. We need to pay attention to what’s up there, in a human way.
  2. How did we get the information to report on this?
    • This was an overview of the philosophy of the column. If any one source is important, it is probably Carl Sagan’s books.
  3. How can the reader get more information on the topic covered?
    • There are many experts on this topic! Email Rian (fantord16@juniata.edu) and he will work on connecting you with one. Also, if you have interest in guestwriting for this column, please contact Rian.
  4. Did we miss something?
    • Let us know! Contact Rian (fantorx16@juniata.edu) with any further questions, comments, or concerns about this article, to suggest further articles about this topic, or to guestwrite for this column.