The Future of Manned Space Exploration - An Open Letter

Subject: The Future of Manned Space Exploration - An Open Letter
From: Alfred Sadler
Date: 24 Jul 2015

Dear NASA, ESA, CNSA, Elon Musk / SpaceX, Boeing, Richard Branson / Virgin Galactic, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Steven Hawking, Brian Cox, Dara O Briain, Bill Nye (The Science Guy) and any others it may concern.

This is an open letter to your agencies and companies with regard to the monumental task of tackling manned space exploration at a reduced cost to a single party and another giant leap for mankind. As we all know it is more economically viable to spread costs between parties in order to lessen the financial burden upon one body.

Space has been an open frontier for many decades to mankind, one that is unimaginably vast. My fascination started with none other than Star Wars, I was born into an average family and grew up with said films. A fire they started was a romanticism with space of which I'm sure millions have shared, though I myself have not undertaken the correct routes to contribute my intelligence to space travel I devote my love and imagination to what mankind can achieve. I look at the stars and wonder what the planets would look like, be it deserts, mountain peaks three times the size of Everest, endless seas that span tens of thousands of miles, geysers miles high. Sights one could only ever dream of seeing, yet I am blissfully aware that I shall never see these for myself. One thing I am confident of is our ability to set foot on the Moon again, to venture upon Mars' surface, explore the seas of Europa and mine Io.

In 1962, at Rice University (though I was not even a concept at the time) JFK gave, in my opinion, one of the most momentous speeches of the 20th century. Some extracts as follows;

"Our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.'

"I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.'

"There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

Seven years later we set foot on the Moon and Neil Armstrong's words resonated throughout the hearts, minds and imaginations of people across the planet.

Has the echo died? Has the notion of space become so nullified that only a handful of companies and government agencies are willing to pursue such a venture?

In 1971-1986 the Salyut expeditions were launched along with Skylab. Skylab most notably a signature of what two nations who were oh so bitter with each other could achieve. Since these achievements we've seen Mir (1986-2001, where I watched the reentry on TV) ISS (1998-Present) and Tiangong (2011-Present) I personally fully recognise the significance of each of these stations and the information they have provided us with and how hard space is. Yet there is something I feel is missing. Some might say that the void is somewhat lunar. I cannot imagine myself the vastness of data that could be obtained from a base on the far side of the Moon, not to mention a stepping stone to the rest of the solar system vastly reducing costs of terrestrial launches.

I am confident that a proportion of the dreams of people such as Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke are well within our grasp. I propose we forget our differences, reset the clock, make tomorrow the day our dreams come true. The discovery this week of Kepler 452b – so-called Earth II – should be said motivation, one could only ever hope this open letter would be enough, but I am not one to inspire quite like a planet.

Is it not time we re-stoked the fires? Refuel the engines of change? Send a call to the masses and set alight a fire that rages deep into the night and never dims, reach farther than we've reached ever before. Of my 22, years I have witnessed much change, though not as much change as I have learnt to have happened between 1908 and 1960. A rekindling is necessary, if not for our dreams but for the betterment of our species.

This is why I propose quarrels be sidelined, a joint venture between all nations to be launched, a dedication to space exploration on an unprecedented level. I would initiate a Kickstarter to fund any amount that could be crowd sourced for such a venture, for example a Lunar Base. But where would I start? I do not have the pull or fanbase NASA has or the financial, or marketing backing of Virgin or Elon Musk, neither do I have the reputation of Steven Hawking, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Brian Cox, Dara Ó Briain and Bill Nye, etc.

So please I call on the men and women of the industry of change, to think of new ways to fund such a venture and make this happen if not for the sake of being the first, but to remembered as the patrons of change.

Kind Regards

Alfred Sadler, Your average guy with a vision for great change.