|Plants may help establish Space settlements, but we cannot solely rely on plants.|
When the company was first formed, our mission was clear and simple: create the niche for Space Biology and bring plants closer to Space. However, this image doesn’t quite grasp the importance of plants in developing communities. And more so, we wouldn’t be “bringing” plants to Space, they would instead be grown there. We are currently exploring ways to expand our industry, such that we can improve society, health and education.
In emerging communities, the ability to grow plants represents a step forward to self-sustainability. When agriculture first evolved, we saw this transition in behaviour in early humans, as they spent less time moving across the plains in hunt for food and developed a sedimentary lifestyle. Though what we call a sedimentary lifestyle today, would be very different to what it was 5,000 years ago. Agriculture was a fire in its own right; an element that helped early humans expand and establish themselves onto new lands, gave way to a more diversified diet and brought forward more options for trade and communication with far-away communities. Movement and trade would have introduced more people to various conditions and diseases, and this would continue to occur in our present day. And there is currently little attention being paid to how diseases can be managed in emerging settlements. We perhaps do not have the understanding as a global community on how to manage a health crisis, such a disease outbreak, as there is no universal code of conduct. We also see our response across several nations being more of a political strategy rather than something to help the good of the population. And there are also those who do not yet understand the severity diseases pose to us, from the most documented pathogens in the media to those which we hardly have heard about in regions of the world that we have little connection to.
We think that building a community in Space will be different than starting new on Earth, probably because there are very few places on Earth that remain untouched. We think that we can take our understanding of Earth and apply it to Space or to the Moon or Mars. We even think that our success in Space is about bringing resources from Earth. In reality, we still know very little about how to manage developing communities and as humans we usually tend to give responsibility to a single representative early on. We mustn’t forget that everyone within that community still shares an equal responsibility. I imagine that at the start of these settlements everyone will be civil, work together on projects, and build the infrastructure for the community. Stability would come from uncertainty. These initial settlers, the older and more experienced, might even, one day, become the leaders of the community, a common mentality of tribal rule. The question remains whether we have the mental power to create newer and better communities when only reflection we have of this is how we have come to develop Earth.
And here lies the main issue with this. We are looking towards the future in Space from the mindset that we have perfected our presence on Earth. We suffer from political instability, prejudice against races, cultures and ideologies, problems with being self-sustainable, pollution and not to mention a plethora of diseases which still have no cure. And powerful nations and organisations will repeatedly push the idea that going to Space will be a solution to some of our problems, and that Space represents new commerce opportunities, tourism, improved surgery techniques in microgravity, and while these may be true, we mustn’t allow ourselves to see only the build-up of Space as an independent industry. Many powerful nations, in this regard, see Space development as a political and military strategy, like it was in the 1960s. In 2019 we signed an alliance with Space Renaissance International (SRI), a Space advocacy association, which aimed to create a protocol to protect civilians in Space, affirming that Space is being built by powerful nations for political and military campaigns. Space advocates, like SRI, crave for the support of big corporations, and while they claim to be representatives of civilians, they involve very few in discussions, even the most notable NASA retirees. That is why we will review our alliances at the end of this year to ensure that they still align with our values.
Everything we do to try to create Space settlements should be applied to benefit Earth. This might be developing plants that can sustain microgravity or different atmospheric conditions better and over longer generations, and perhaps we can expand altitudes where more crop varieties are grown here on Earth. We could build technologies which would allow plants to grow in low-cost growth chambers so that these can be implemented into living spaces–the gardens of the future. We might also learn more about how diseases can be monitored, controlled and tracked using something other than high-tech equipment. What tools might we need in an ordinary day in Space, which we could benefit of now? We want to continue working for the benefit for Earth in the first instance, and with modern understanding and appreciation of the resources that we, as a population develop, take that new knowledge to Space. We stand firm on Space being built through the vision of the general population, to be governed under a democratic system that benefits from equal rights, understands the importance of protecting the new environment and will unite settlers when there is threat of diseases and uncertainty. That is why our attention at the moment cannot solely be aimed at developing Space, if we are still continuing to create a better Earth.