That famous and thrilling pronouncement from the TV series Star Trek, “To boldly go where no man has gone before” ignites our imagination and our emotions. To this day, it remains irresistibly compelling.  Sure it is sci-fi, and we know that, but at the same time we dream that much of it could eventually come true.

In today’s space programs, we experience both high drama and then periods of apparent purposelessness.  At the moment we are confused and disappointed by a flood of conflicting policy proposals and explanations. There appears to be both bold proposals from the private sector and apparent timidity or poor communications on the part of government policy makers. It is very easy to jump up and shout, “where are we going and when?”  Right now we are getting garbled replies.

Behind all the confusion resides a scientific body that steadily and steadfastly proffer to our government, private industry and every citizen serious and thorough studies on all aspects of space exploration.

The organization is the National Research Council which falls under the National Academies of Science. This is a “private, non-profit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research….”  It has officially existed since 1863 when it was chartered by an act of Congress and charged with a “mandate to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters.” It regularly fulfills the requirements of that Congressional mandate on a variety of topic areas including the space sciences and space exploration. In this venue we have taxpayer dollars working for all of us and for the future of the space sciences. Here are some examples of its current activities about the space sciences and space exploration:

  1. Fostering Visions For The Future: A Review of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts.
  2. Life and Physical Science Research for a New Era of Space Exploration – Interim Report
  3. Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition In A Globalilzing World: Summary of a Workshop

There are many more actual reports, and most importantly, every one of them are available for download in PDF format at NO COST! Every interested person has total access to the results of these space studies. Should we be interested?  Most certainly, and from our review of NAS/NRC studies we can begin to have a better view of where humankind should be going with respect to space exploration.

Yes, I know, some may tell you this is just high level thinking from a select group of academics. This is not the case, and if you choose to review any of the above examples you will see a detail listing of the members of each review board. That list includes academics, industry representatives, and members of government, especially NASA. All of those board members are accessible to you and you have the opportunity to write to them expressing your concerns or asking for more information. Additionally, you have the option to get on a mailing list in which you are advised of both meetings and publications from the NAS/NRC research projects.

We will boldly go out into the deep space of our solar system and beyond, but unlike earlier explorers who often bravely and blindly probed the unknown, our space explorers will go forward with a better understanding of what lies ahead and how to best explore, discover and explain for the benefit of all humankind.


Image: Starship Enterprise from the Star Trek TV series.

Explore posts in the same categories: Deep Space Explorations, Humankind and Exploration, Scientific Research

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: