Tele column – 2nd February 2018

To boldly go…

Those of you that have been paying attention will have noticed that I have a healthy interest in space and in particular the Apollo missions. I remember as a kid trying and possibly failing to explain to my Gran why space travel was important and how it would benefit humankind (to be honest in the sixties we said mankind, we were less politically correct). Her reluctance to embrace it was well founded in common sense. Why spend money on going to the moon when we could spend it on issues that matter on Earth. Or as Gill Scott Heron the black American soul and jazz poet wrote “No hot water, no toilets, no lights but Whitey’s on the moon.” I admit I was just a little star struck by rockets and science fiction but ultimately, was I right?

We gained satellites and therefore GPS and telecommunications networks the likes of which we never had before. Artificial limbs are being developed based in robot technology developed by NASA. Water purification systems developed to provide astronauts with clean water are now used in third world countries. We have developed, materials, instruments, manufacturing techniques and foods. And never to be forgotten or underestimated, international collaboration between the USA, Europe, Russia and China.

But, in the end, I think what makes space so inviting is that it’s all about taking on challenges and coming up with solutions. If we could bottle that mentality and focus it on Earth we could eradicate poverty, provide food, water and shelter for everyone on this planet. We could harness the energy from clean renewable energy and decontaminate what we have already poisoned. To do that we would need to start each new project with a blank piece of paper and not be tied to the current systems and processes that perpetuate the problems. Space may be the final frontier but the lessons we learn there must bear fruit on Mother Earth if any of it is going to make sense. Live long and prosper.