Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA
Since humans returned to the Moon, we went from being an outpost on a barren rock orbiting Earth to being a nascent civilization on the Moon and Mars, with outposts on dozens of asteroids, outer planets and their moons. We went from a population of under a dozen to one approaching 300,000 extraterrestrials.
But our impact is larger than what one may expect of that many people. A city on Earth of that population is considered small, perhaps peripheral to the main avenues of power and influence. The 300,000 people who are today distributed throughout large sectors of the Solar System are all prime movers. Each of us has significant responsibilities. We oversee an infrastructure that is vast and very wealthy. We supply 80% of the energy needs of Earth and an increasing percentage of its raw material needs.
Space settlements, those in orbit around Earth, the Moon and Mars, as well as the many outposts and small cities on the Moon and Mars, are important to all humans because of the access these give us to resources otherwise unavailable to our industrial societies and for the multiple markets created. By settling the Moon and Mars, Earth sent into space its best and brightest in the arts and sciences and strengthened humanity’s core positive achievements: democracy, individual rights, equal opportunities for individual achievements, and all that is inherent and is based on these principles. Humans explore because it is in our genes.