Image Credit: NASA
President Bush's bold plan for an increased human presence in the solar system has done more than just shake up the priorities at NASA. It has sparked a debate about the worth of space exploration compared with other, more earth-bound values like health-care, education, and national security. Other issues like astro-environmentalism and the implications of humans as a multi-planet species require philosophical reflection. There is also the question of how this science benefits society. Certainly, novel products will emerge from the basic research process, and perhaps the effective goal is to maintain U.S. military dominance. But, the breathtaking photos sent back from the two mars rovers suggest that the reasons for space exploration may be largely metaphysical and aesthetic as well. If this is so, then NASA could be seen as the ultimate hybrid of science and humanities - exploring outer space in order to enrich our inner space.
H/P Research Centers:The Center for Space Exploration Policy Research
Space Policy in the News :The Fight for Pluto Rages On (Sky and Telescope, September 1, 2006.)
Tech Tycoon's Dream: My Own Private Spaceship (NPR, All Things Considered, June 27, 2006)