Clement Charles

Clement Charles 's thoughts
April 10th, 2014 by Clement Charles

Mars & Beyond. Panel discussion.

I was honored to moderate and drive the debate at the CSEM event on Mars and beyond. On April 9th, at the event Mars & Beyond, organized by the CSEM. The event had a fantastic line up with astronautes such as Claude Nicollier,  Elena Kondakova, moonwalker Charlie Duke as well as industrial ecology specialist Prof. Erkman or the technical director of the European Space Agency, Mr. Franco Ongaro.

 

Below, please find more information about the questions discussed with the panel and a presentation of the fantastic panelist and my personal conclusion on what means the future of space for mankind.

INTRO
During this panel, we did talk about the three upcoming moments for the conquest of space in the 21st century. First of all, right now, the private space era is open, while public space still leads.
Then, the second moment will be the missions – with an S, they will be many – that will take us to work and live permanently in space, around earth, on the moon or on Mars.
The third phase, in the second half of the century, could see a wider seeding of the solar system by courageous women and men, paving the way for further, more massive, migration.
Private & Public Space ( 2015-2020)
While government have open the door to most of the achievement in the conquest of space, the last 10 years have seen the rise of the new generation of private spaces companies. Initiated by Peter Diamandis’ X Prize in 2004, the rate for private space is on with majors companies such as Space X, Blue Origin, Bigelow Aerospace, 3S, Orbital Sciences are now in business. Space X billionaire founder Elon Musk has planned to travel to Mars and possible die there – I mean, not during the landing phase.
– How credible are the private ventures for Mars ? will there be private companies there in the 10 years ?
– There is a lot of excitation around private space. What is the biggest risk for those corporations… Run out of financing ? Impossible technical challenge ?
– How will government be able to maintain /reinvest their position in the space while having difficulties to raise awareness of the need for space ? How can they be sure not to leave the table before the winning bet ?
Living & Working In Space (2020-2040)
Let’s know see the moment where both private and public spaces succeeded in going to Mars and in installing industries and real estate in orbit of any of our two planets, the blue and the red one.
– How will those company make money in space: zero gravity industries ? Asteroid mining ? Deuterium collection ?
– How to invest today to serve market that don’t exist yet but that may huge (i.e. deuterium)? Is « Planetary Ressources » just a joke for investor ?
– Low orbit, high orbit, the moon, Mars… What is the juridiction ? Will it be a new frontier, with a « fist come, first served » basis ? What’s the risk to have « de facto » space nation or orbital corporation unlinked in any earth powers ?
And Beyond (2040-2100)
Technical challenges are only a part of the problems that we need to solve. As in computer security, where the risk is always between the keyboard and the chair, all the technical solutions will not solve the psychological challenge of travelling away from earth  for long times, for generation, and without never coming back .
Is there plenty of people that would be ready to leave for ever ? 
 
Going beyond…. When we have the technology (not discussed), how can we handle the psychology, the deep change in the purpose of one’s life.  A life in a can ? In multi-generational motherships ? A crew on pause ?
How are the next destination for mankind… We all read and saw artist views about Mars and Galilean moons, … What next in the solar system ?
Living on solid ground or orbiting around anything with a mass ? Any where and any way, what’s the expected benefit ?
Create the adequate technology to support extreme conditions or invest in genetical engineering to adapt to all the upcoming natural conditions?
Going away from the solar system: any miles stone / pit stop until Alpha Centauri…  Oort cloud? Brown dwarfs ?
Conclusion 
Making mankind a multi planetary species is the mission and the purpose of our generation. Astronautes like Elena Kondakova, Charlie Duke or Claude Nicollier and today’s professionals like Prof. Erkman or Mr. Ongaro are now to be followed by a new generation of pioneers, pushing the frontier, paving roads to new worlds. Their commitment, their emotions  are proof that the exploring are central to the uniqueness of mankind.
We saw today the convergence between improving life on earth and expanding the reach of mankind. We confirmed the similarities between the challenge of sending a crew in a metal ship  on Mars and the necessity that everyone’s mothership, Earth, can host, feed and support all its human passenger.
Indeed, despite the fantastic progress that we encountered over the past centuries, we – the human species – are a turning point where we are deciding now, at the dawn of the millenium, the type of futures that upcoming generation will be able to enjoy.
Whatever your vision of the future is, expanding to space is essential to our future and the upcoming generations. To keep learning, to improve life on earth, to find solution that are universally applicable or to be sure we have somewhere else to survive if our Earth vessel has problems.
The sky is the limit ? This is so 20th century… Sky is not the limit, it’s the starting line.
A starting line to reach and live everywhere we can – on the low orbit, on moon, on mars, on the moons of Jupiter, to then go outside our solar systems to other stars, other suns, other worlds.
Mankind, as a whole, is capable of the worse and of the best. The history and the present of space is a tale of science, mutual respect, innovative technology, a tale of peace and courage… A tale of the best in ourselves. This is what we need to spread, what we need to cherish and support, what we need take away in other worlds.
Our long term is future is on Earth.
Our long term future is also everywhere else.
So let’s go….

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