Going to space is hard. The main reason is that it takes a lot of energy (read: fuel) to take us off the planet. The more fuel you need to pack, the heavier you are, so the more fuel you need to fight gravity. It’s a self-defeating cycle. 

The answer is, of course, more efficient fuel – fuel that packs more energy per mass.

Why should we care about going to space? It’s not like we don’t have enough problems down here, right?

Here are a few reasons:

  1. This planet has limited resources. We’re in a pretty good place right now, regardless of what the scaremongers would have you believe. But as resources get depleted, getting into space gets harder, not easier.
  2. As stated above, the key to getting us into space is energy efficiency – more power through fewer resources. If we figure that out, a lot of our other problems will go away, too.
  3. As a species, we are getting restless. Our history is a history of exploration and conquest. We’ve (mostly) run out of places to explore and contest, so we’re stewing in our internal, petty conflicts. Off-planet exploration could work as a way to positively channel our energy as a species.

People are working on this, right now. But not nearly enough.

Photo Credit: miikajom Flickr via Compfight cc