The launch of the first artificial satellite of the Earth gave a start to the new space era on the 4th of October, 1957. The humankind experienced new emotions and realized the new possibilities that space technologies could offer. Some years later such ideas as satellite broadcasting were implemented, and in 1961 the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin left the surface of the planet entering the space zone on board a spaceship.
Space technologies today are an inalienable part of our life: all the communication systems are based on space signal transmission. People use GPS for positioning and calculating coordinates.
What if… everything stops? Would it be possible to live without all this equipment, if something happened in the near space? One may say it’s not possible today, though a powerful geomagnetic (solar) storm may cause malfunction of satellites or damage them completely.
Today there are more than 1000 operational satellites orbiting the Earth. And there is a lot of space debris (also known as orbital debris, space junk, or space waste). The amount of it is so huge that, as Fraser Cain puts it ‘We might seal ourselves inside a shield of shrieking metal moving at 29,000 km/hour’.* Space debris is what is left after previous launches and no one can presently remove it from the orbit. Does it mean that in the near future the humankind should be concerned about ‘space ecology’ more than about ‘space technology’? Why not?
Although people haven’t reached a sufficiently high level of space development, the project ‘Mars One’ is to establish the first human settlement on Mars in 2023. They have already found a group of volunteers who are ready to leave the Earth for good and they realize that there will be no way back. Why? Are they tired of life? There may be some controversial viewpoints here. Some people support them, calling them ‘pioneers’, others believe it is an attempt of suicide. Time will show. The terms of the project may be shifted, maybe it’ll become clear, that the humankind isn’t ready to take this step yet. Or maybe tons of space junk will not simply let the spacecraft break through.
Governments of the whole world invest heavily in space exploration. It may be a debatable question. On the one hand it leads to a new level of technology, provides the country with new workplaces. It’s prestigious after all. But no one knows what it will lead to in the future. Some people believe that technologies may have already destroyed some races that lived on our planet before.
But we can’t deny that people’s inquisitive mind has already given some results. We know more about the structure of the Universe, about its origin, about the planets of the Solar system and many other things. But these are only theories. What is our real knowledge? The Universe itself is the basement of scientific philosophy, which is undoubtedly worth studying.