SPACE AS AN OCEAN
LESSONS FROM THE AGE OF EUROPEAN MARINE EXPLORATION FOR THE SPACE AGE.
From the E Book "PROTOCOLS" The Foreword (c) 2012 by American Admiralty Books
Unlike the last great age of exploration the present age was not preceded by eons of migration. Migrations of men are radically different from explorations. Migrations are random and uncoordinated events. Though random, migrations can generate profound changes. On Earth man migrated from the tropics to the rim of the Arctic and peopled every land mass on the planet except Antarctica before the final age of terrestrial exploration began. Migrations can both precede and follow great ages of exploration. Migrations are the result of cumulative individual decisions. Explorations are most often important undertakings of states. The present age of space exploration began as a competition between states and is already evolving into a mostly cooperative effort of multiple states. We are preparing to leave the planet. It will not be a migration, no random individual decisions to leave. It will be a cooperative international effort, organized in great detail and at great cost. Migration will probably follow at some distant point but we are going, of that there can be no doubt.
Why are we so sure that we are going? Because the results of our first tentative explorations tell us that it will be worth the trip. Prior to 1969 men on the moon were a science fiction invention. Today more than 40 years after Neil Armstrong's historic first step, we've had it, we've been there, we left behind junk cars to memorialize our passage! In the years since that historic landing we learned a few things about moon dust. Based on samples brought back from the moon we found a fairly large supply of nearly identical mineral formations in the northern United States. This allowed experimentation in quantity. We found that with sufficient technology we can extract many useful elements from moon dust and rock including water! Long term basing on the moon is therefor possible. But why would we want to base anything in that forsaken landscape? Two other late twentieth century discoveries make it desirable.
First, we now know for certain that other planets circle other suns.some as close as 38 light years from us and some we already know have atmospheres. The Hubble telescope ( the telescope orbiting our planet in space) and other unmanned probes that we have sent out have confirmed that water, especially in the form of ice is much more common in the universe than previously suspected. We discovered non oxygen dependent life forms on this planet at the bottom of the sea in sulfuric vents and possible DNA evidence in rock from Mars. In 1969 we did not know for certain that other suns had planetary systems and the universe was popularly thought to most probably be a dust bin. We will go on to fully explore our own solar system and beyond because we now know for a fact that our chances of discovering new and inhabitable real estate are in fact excellent. We also now know that the earth's viability as an inhabitable place is not indefinite. Even if we escape man caused environmental collapse, nuclear disaster, or catastrophic asteroid collisions, the sun has an expiration date and with it goes Earth. As a self aware species we will seek to survive. This fact drives both the now beginning age of exploration and waves of migration that will follow.
As a society the Western World already seems prepared to accept that our outward search may reveal new potential trading partners, competitors, prior claimants or even enemies. If life is now not only possible but probable in the universe out there, so is intelligent life with all that is implied by that term. We must be prepared before going, to deal with encounters with unique and quite different biota and perhaps even intelligent beings. What possible experience could the human race have from which to draw lessons for such an eventuality? We suggest that we have in our collective history an age quite similar to the impending age with many parallel events from which we can draw lessons. Once, only a few hundred years ago, the shape of the world was unknown. Human and animal populations were separated by vast, seemingly uncross-able oceans. Human societies were incredibly diverse and strange to each other. Creatures great and small from the far reaches of the planet seemed wondrously strange and alien. Into this unknown world would come the mariners of Western Europe. In their wake would come eventually the concept of the "Global Village", but first would come wars, pestilence, and extinctions , in unprecedented numbers. By studying the mistakes and successes of the great age of European maritime exploration we can decipher lessons of great utility in the age of space exploration. Now is the time do to do this for at the moment we are in a relatively long pause before the next human visit to a distant planet. But the pause will not hold. The time is short, the need vital, so let us begin.