Read More: Big Think
The next several decades are likely to be revolutionary in humanity’s relationship with space. Instead of just the select few astronauts, a much larger portion of the planet’s population, perhaps hundreds of thousands, could start traveling into the cosmos. They would go on long journeys to faraway planets like Mars, staff the first colonies on the moon and beyond, become asteroid miners and engage in many other professions that will be necessary as we explore this new frontier. But what will these first outposts in space look like and how will they work? A new study on the future of space stations and space colonies was recently published in the journal Reach, a publication focused on human space exploration. The paper was written by Werner Grandl, an Austrian architect and civil engineer, who has been researching and publishing studies on space colonies and space stations since 1986. Grandl provides a clear imperative for the humans to go to space, calling planet Earth "just the cradle of mankind.” According to Grandl, if we want to survive as a species, we need to “stretch the concept of nature beyond the biosphere” and understand “cosmic evolution”. And within that larger cosmic view, there is no reason to stay put on Earth, with all its dangers and scarcities. The first place we should go? You guessed it - the moon. Grandl thinks that humans will return to the moon in the 2020s, building a lunar base on and below the surface. The purpose of the outpost would be both for research and for learning to utilize the moon’s resources. Helium-3 (a rare isotope of helium), iron, aluminum, titanium and more can be extracted from lunar materials. Farther down the line, the moon base would produce fuel for spaceships on their way to intergalactic destinations.