An open question that I’ve been struggling with since the conference:
What deep-seated human –need- can space exploration fulfill for a massive number of people?
This question is based purely out of selfishness: space exploration fulfills my basic human need for greater meaning and excitement. But it doesn’t do that for the vast majority of people: it’s pretty clear that if millions of people shared my feelings about space exploration (and maybe even science in general) the world would be a different place.
I would argue that anything with sustained success addresses at least a part of some fundamental human need, whether directly or indirectly. Sometimes I have trouble justifying space exploration along these axes – yes, the awesome factor is a player, but things done simply because of their awesome factor have no sticking power. They’re like empty calories. Space exploration needs to find its veggies and meat.
This is why I want to find a way for space exploration (not just launching satellites) to become profitable. That goal still goes back to my opening question: what human needs can space explorers meet?