Space and survival is the relationship between space and the long-term survival of the human species and civilization. It is based on the observation that space colonization and space science would prevent many human extinction scenarios. A related observation is the limited time and resources available for the colonization of space.
Uses of space colonization
Extinction can be prevented by improving the physical barrier or increasing the distance between people and the potential extinction event. For example, people survive imminent explosions by being in a bunker or evacuating. Pandemics are controlled by putting exposed people in quarantine and moving healthy people away.
Life support systems that enable people to live in space may also allow them to survive hazardous events. For example, an infectious disease or biological weapon that transmits through the air could not infect a person in a life support system. There is an internal supply of air and a physical barrier between the person and the environment.
Location and distance
Expanding the living area of the human species increases the distance between humans and any hazardous event. People closest to the event are most likely to be killed or injured; people furthest from the event are most likely to survive.
Increasing the number of places where humans live also prevents extinction. For example, if a massive impact event occurred on Earth without warning, the human species would probably become extinct. However, if humans had previously colonized locations outside Earth, the species would survive.
Opportunities for space colonization
Space colonies do not currently exist. There is a concern that the human species may lose its technological knowledge, use up required resources or become extinct before it colonizes space.
The author Sylvia Engdahl wrote about the "Critical Stage", a period of time when a civilization has both the technology to expand into space and the technology to destroy itself. Engdahl states that the human civilization is at a Critical Stage, but that the funding for space exploration and colonization is minuscule compared to the funding for weapons of mass destruction and military forces.
NBC News space analyst James Oberg commented that "It's just a matter of waiting until we get some kind of cosmic 9/11 that will make everyone say 'why didn't we see this before,' and then we'll have enough money to afford these programs." 
Uses of space science
The observation and study of space protects Earth. Space hazards can be seen in advance and acted against.
Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) are asteroids, comets and large meteoroids that come close to or collide with Earth. Spaceguard is a name for efforts to discover and study NEOs.
Last updated: 05-07-2005 17:33:19
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04