New Delhi: Billionaire entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are at the forefront of a new age commercial space exploration programmes and actually working towards building a base station on Moon and ultimately colonising Mars. And it is not just adventure, glory or money that they seek in ferrying humans to distant planets. At the core of their space programmes is the belief that for humans to survive and thrive forever, they will eventually need a backup planet.
Only this week, Musk said that “a big rock (asteroid) will hit Earth eventually and we currently have no defence”. Bezos, on the other hand, worries that we will run out of energy on Earth, leaving the future generations with limited resources which can block their growth and dynamism. Instead of restricting the use of resources on Earth, they want to find solutions in “unlimited” resources in other planets that have remained unexplored.
Writing in Ad Astra (“To the Stars”), the magazine of the National Space Society in the US, aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin said that Mars is much richer than the Moon “in carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen, all in biologically readily accessible forms such as carbon dioxide gas, nitrogen gas, and water ice and permafrost”
“Carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen are only present on the Moon in parts per million quantities, much like gold in seawater,” he wrote. In his book “The Case for Space: How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up a Future of Limitless Possibility”, Zubrin argued that besides helping us in harnessing natural resources, settling in other planets can help enhance our knowledge of the universe and debunk the “false” belief there is just not enough for all of us.
Bezos said that a major hindrance to space entrepreneurship today is the lack of infrastructure. That could be the reason why we have seen only a few billionaires, mostly from the US, venturing into space exploration. Once the infrastructure is there, Bezos believes, even entrepreneurs with limited capital, would be able to contribute to the ways space could be used for the betterment of humanity. —IANS