Space exploration can be defined in terms of what is done as well as what is used. According to Harland and Harvey, it can be said to be an activity of going into outer space for discovery or study purposes (136). Outer space in this context means venture into the areas beyond the surface of the earth. Space exploration also refers to an activity of using telescopes, rockets, satellites, or spacecrafts launched or operated from the earth and that target the outer space (ibid.). Those two dimensions in the definition of space exploration are important. In summarizing them, space exploration can be defined as an adventure or discovery activity using telescopes, rockets, satellites, or spacecrafts launched or operated from the earth.
The idea of space exploration has revolutionized since the earliest times. In early years, space exploration was mainly about humans making observations from the earth’s surface (Kranz 59). This was in the era of limited tools for use in this kind of explorations. In those times, people simply observed the outer space by their naked eyes (Kranz 59). Whatever was in their visual frame formed their degree of space explorations. No doubt then that at that time, space exploration was a limited avenue for people, as they sought to understand their world and beyond (Kranz 59). As the time passed, telescopes were discovered for the purpose of space explorations. This achievement increased the relevance of space explorations (Kranz 59). Telescopes, though still of a limited nature, brought some improvement to the overall information obtained from space explorations. Very small astronomical objects could now be observed from the surface of the earth. To some level, the limitations of distance experienced from the naked eye observations were eliminated (Kranz 61).
A telescope, though an important tool, still had many limitations in studying the outer space. The telescopes could not obtain finer details because they were not close enough to the objects which were observed. The solution was to seek tools which would move into the outer space and make a closer look at what was being observed (Kranz 63). The search for such a tool led to the discovery and use of rockets for space explorations. The year 1945 saw the first launches of rockets by Germans for the purpose of space explorations. It was their rocket called V2. In their use, rockets also presented many limitations in space explorations (Kranz 63). In many ways, they lacked the level of control and experience the scientists wanted. This led them to discover satellites for the same purpose of space explorations. These satellites reached more advantages for space exploration (Kranz 64).
The Soviet Union was the first country to send a Sputnik 1 satellite out in the space in 1957. In the same year, the Soviets launched another satellite, Sputnik 2. These explorations by a competitor did not go well for the United States. In what was commonly known as space race, the United States also launched a satellite called Explorer 1. This was on the 31st January of the year 1958, only a year after the Soviet successful ventures into this domain. American second exploration was on 5th March of the same year, 1958. This one, however, failed on the objective of reaching the orbit.
As Young notes, the space race did not have a man going into the outer space (113). The closest to it was Sputnik 2, with a dog onboard of the satellite. In recorded history, Yuri Gagarin, a Russian, was the very first human who explored the space on the 12th April 1961. His space journey also made a turn in the tools implemented for space exploration. Yuri used a spacecraft called Vostok 1. This marked the beginning of human-operated spacecrafts going into outer space and carrying humans for the exploration (Young 113). Many space explorations followed since then using rockets, satellites, and spacecrafts. In recent times, China’s Shenzhou 5 was also manned by humans in 2003.
Positive impact on daily life and society
People and societies across the world usually live with the pressing questions they are unable to answer without volition to explore. These are the questions about where they came from and how their world operates (Launius 81). People want to know about the seasons and all the factors which affect them. They want to know about the climate and the expected changes, as well as what causes the expected or anticipated events. Space exploration has helped answer many of these questions (Launius 81). These explorations have helped people understand conditions such as the earth warming. Global warming is a phenomenon today which affects the food security and lives of people in many ways. With space exploration, people are able to know what is causing global warming, along with the possible impacts on their food security and other aspects of their lives (Launius 83). Connection with global warming and food security means space exploration is of economic importance to the daily lives of people and societies.
The idea of global warming possibly focuses on one object in space exploration. This is the sun. But it is not the sun alone which emanates as a product of space explorations. Instead, the moon, the earth itself, and millions of other astronomical bodies have been studied through space exploration (Launius 81). These studies have revealed important data to help people. They enable predictions on natural calamities, such as floods and earthquakes (Launius 84). This is from the explorations which reveal disequilibrium in these systems that are bound to impact on the earth, causing events such as floods. The overall meaning is that space exploration is central for disaster preparedness of people, communities, and societies. Without such explorations, security and safety is not assured in homes and societies, the disasters may strike unexpectedly. At such times, the daily survival of people is threatened (Launius 85).
People have always wanted to know their origin and future. This embodies the religious and ethical questions they have. Space exploration tends to answer these questions. These explorations play a vital role in answering questions on the origin of humans on a scientific premise, as well as through satiating religious premises (Launius 87). Through studies on the sun, moon, and other astronomical bodies, religious and ethical beliefs are proved or substantiated. It is understandable how these religious and ethical beliefs on origin are important. They help people and societies understand their role and potential on earth, which increases individual and collective achievement of daily tasks (Launius 87).
Need for further exploration
As Young (93) explains, anyone who lives in a world where there is little understanding of its structure is basically limited in achievement. Potential is only reached with full understanding of what is out there. Space exploration is built on the premise of unleashing human potential. As Young (93) holds, space explorations are there and must be there for people to discover the benefits which still exist in the outer space. According to Young (93), there are boundless resources in outer space for humans to tap into and enjoy as they live on the earth. The necessity for further exploration is also discussed in Solomon (29). According to Young (94), the world’s population is growing so fast. The meaning of this, according to Solomon (29), is that the world is becoming a small place to hold the future generations. Space exploration may be the solution. As Solomon (29) postulates, with space explorations humans can one day discover another home like the earth up there.
Besides the population growth, the economy of the world is also shrinking. There is the need to find new resources for use in factories and manufacturing. As Harland and Harvey (144) highlight, the earth will not provide for that many years into the future. Records show how hydrocarbons are decreasing, among other energy resources. Space exploration is the only solution. It will provide places where more energy can be obtained to solve the energy equation today, which will be steeply affecting the near future. All these reasons call for more space exploration. They call for an increase in exploration activities (Harland and Harvey 144).
Current trends and events
Events and discussions around space explorations today are astonishing. Today, talk is ripe on the creation of spaceports. Scientists going into space are already exploring this. They think that it is possible to build harbors in the outer space, just as is the case with ports on Earth (Harland and Harvey 148). Scientists continue to take on space exploration activities to demarcate the outer space into the portions safe for anchoring. Another trend in space explorations is space tourism. It is the notion that the space can be understood in the recreational value it can bring. It is being advocated that space exploration results in the findings of interesting and safe areas for human exploration and adventure. Support for space exploration has been massive. Citizens across nations hold that space exploration will make a direct impact on their lives, hence the need to be supported (Harland and Harvey 149).
Role of government/policy
Government has played and continues to play a key role in space explorations. Political competition, such as the space race, is a clear example of how governments can directly or indirectly increase space explorations. During that time, the United States government initiated space exploration to counter the pace of the Soviet. Collectively, the two governments’ competition led to opening up of the exploration (Young 103). The policies they came up with and which guided these explorations were also important for now and for the future. At that time, it was about geographical possession. Today, such a drive continues to be a salient objective of space explorations (Young 103). The meaning of this is that government policy continues to influence the objectives of space explorations. Policies on security are also important in focusing on discussing the role of government in space exploration (Young 103). Today, citizens want to be assured of safety, when their countries go ahead with space exploration to possess new areas beyond the earth. Apparently, expansionist policies by governments continue to influence the rates of space exploration, as well as the outcomes. Overall, governments continue to play the role of initiating and funding these explorations as scientific ventures (Young 103).
Space explorations have been defined herein as the outer space activities using tools such as satellites, telescopes, and spacecrafts. It has been identified how these activities have advanced from the simple observations using the naked eye to the advanced tools, such as spaceships. In the discussion, it has been identified how space exploration impacts on people and society. It has been discussed that space explorations are important for food security, disaster preparedness, and religious beliefs, among other elements of daily life. According to the paper, there is a need to continue with these explorations to find solutions to current problems, such as population growth and depletion of resources. As the discussion holds, governments play an important role initiating and funding these space explorations.