a Human Mission from Planet Earth:
Technology Assessment and Social Forecasting of Moon/Mars Synergies
Eligar Sadeh and Evan Valchos
Center for Engineering Infrastructure and Sciences in Space, Colorado State University, Fort Collins
The goal of this paper is to assess the sociopolitical, scientific, and technological dynamics related to the establishment of a Human Mission from Planet Earth (H-MFPE) involving exploration and utilization of the Moon and Mars. This assessment can be accomplished through: (1) understanding the philosophical and epistemological premises of H-MFPE in the context of the significance of exploration in human history; (2) identifying key H-MFPE trends and developments that have shaped the sociopolitical rationale of this effort; (3) articulating the current sociopolitical, scientific, and technological dimensions of the mission by modeling critical variables; (4) examining the range of impacts and consequences related to relevant H-MFPE scenarios; and (5) formulating potential policy options and implementation alternatives through institutional capacity building and broader public involvement.
These tasks are directed at a systematic process of technology assessment and social forecasting to provide a framework for specifying H-MFPE future scenarios. It is suggested that it is too early to plan a detailed, integrated, and long-term program that presupposed human exploration of the Moon and Mars because not enough is known about the lunar and Martian environments or about survivability in long-term space missions required for H-MFPE. Nevertheless, intermediary steps, including the use of planetary probes and the development of enabling robotic technologies for Moon and Mars exploration and utilization, can be undertaken that could make H-MFPE technically feasible. Thus, of critical importance, for s systematic technology assessment framework, are the concepts of robotic/human and Moon/Mars synergies for H-MFPE.
Related to these scientific and technological considerations is the underlying emphasis on policy dynamics which are viewed as inextricably linked to the realization of H-MFPE. In this regard, decision-making and decision support systems, appropriate funding, and international cooperation are identified as “crucial” factors important for the realization of H-MFPE. The paper concludes with a policy utilization analysis that underscores how policy plans for the realization of H-MFPE can be developed through the help of technology assessment and social forecasting by political decision-makers.