26 February 2018 community

Why do we go into space?

Space is about more than science and engineering; it is about people, life, and our human future - and its time we started talking about the philosophical aspect of it

Within 20 years or less, we expect that the first humans will be living in space, from the Moon to Mars and even beyond. 2211.world is the planet’s first open source platform dedicated to creating the philosophy for the opening of the space environment to humanity. Founded by well-known space leaders Dylan Taylor, Rick Tumlinson, and Frank White, 2211 is designed to encourage conversations about the “Why?” of the human expansion beyond the Earth.

The name 2211.world raises the question of what life will look like 250 years after the famous flight of Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961. This flight, which was part of a Cold War “space race” between two governments, culminated with humans walking on the Moon more than 50 years ago – and once the race was won, it seems to many to have led nowhere.

“We’ve been exploring space for over 50 years and it’s time we had a discussion about why we are doing it and how we will shape it,” said Dylan Taylor, global executive, Co-Founder of the Space Angels investment group and of Space For Humanity. “Opening space is about more than science and engineering. It’s about people, life, and our human future.”

The Founders of 2211 believe that humanity needs to develop a set of core principles as we begin the human expansion outward. “We need a system of fundamental principles and ideas to guide us as we migrate into the solar system,” said Frank White, author of the seminal book, The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution, in which he made an early call for a philosophy of space exploration, citing the Wolfe comment. “In this new Space Age, we need to be very clear on ‘Why’ we are going, as that will determine how we go and what the end result will be. If we are to avoid mistakes that have been made on terrestrial frontiers, this is the moment in history to have that conversation.”

There are scores of questions to be answered about both why we are going and how we will act when we are out there. There are high-level guiding concepts such as: What is the relationship between science, exploration, and settlement? What are the roles of the world’s governments, militaries, and the laws of Earth? Each of these opens up further discussions. For example, how do we treat alien life, how do we treat each other, who has what rights and what are they?

“The last wave of exploration of the new worlds of Earth was about government and commercial exploitation, and while these will be involved, we have the chance right now to change the context in which it occurs, and to define what we want the outcome to be.” said Tumlinson, founder of the Space Frontier Foundation, Deep Space Industries, and one of the leaders of the commercial space revolution. “We are engaged in an act of creation. We can make this next chapter of human life about anything we want. For example, imagine if our motivation was to spread life to the dead worlds of space. How would it feel to be part of a culture with that as its driving goal?”

While the Founders of 2211 believe government bodies are important in setting the rules and laws that manage our interactions, they feel that philosophical principles need to be in place that guide those governments, ideas that transcend governments and that have not been set for the space environment. At this moment in time, space has no borders, no governments, and only a minimal legal order. In the past, the voices of Voltaire, Jefferson, and the others whose ideas helped inform policies and the creation of new forms of government and the culture of today were easily available to thinkers and decision makers, but in today’s world such ideas are scattered across a thousand platforms and publications. 2211.world hopes to give them a home.

From Elon Musk to Jeff Bezos building their own spacecraft, to NASA, ESA, and the Chinese planning settlements and villages on the Moon, to private space station and asteroid mining companies planning their first missions and facilities, the human expansion into the solar system is already underway. The founders of 2211.World believe that this marks the beginning of a spacefaring civilisation. The new website offers all of us a place to think and talk through how we are going to shape this historic moment. Like 2211.world, space is a blank slate where new ideas and concepts can be tested and tried and old ideas can evolve in novel ways.

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