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Spaceship Earth "Fifty Years On"

Updated on July 20, 2019
lawrence01 profile image

The universe is vast and wonderful. It can make us feel so small and insignificant, but it can also make us feel so special that we're here.

Fifty years ago!

Of all the Humans alive at the time, only one isn't in this photo. Micheal Collins, the Orbiter commander took the photo as Neil and Buzz went down to the moon for that historic walk!
Of all the Humans alive at the time, only one isn't in this photo. Micheal Collins, the Orbiter commander took the photo as Neil and Buzz went down to the moon for that historic walk! | Source

A huge milestone.

This week we celebrate one of the greatest achievements that mankind has ever done. The day a man walked on the surface of another heavenly body, our Moon!

Even today the fact that mankind even went there is still controversial, and a pretty large minority still think the whole thing might have been faked, I'm not one of them, and I guess that most of the people reading this aren't either, but a lot of people are still upset that so much money was spent on sending a dozen or so men to the moon when there was so much that the money could have been spent on here on Earth, but guess what, We're living in a time where what they did will become vital, not just for the political kudos it gave the administration of the USA at the time, but will become vital for the survival of the human race!

That's a big claim, and will probably upset a few reading this hub, but I really believe it, not only that but so do many of today's scientists, and some are doing something about it, but more of that later.

Like any 'spaceship'


Yes, just like any 'spaceship' the Spaceship Earth has a crew. The difference is that Earth's 'crew' at the moment is comprised of a 'compliment' of eight billion people, not to mention unknown amounts of species of various animals, fish, birds, reptiles, insects, vegetation and every other living creature, all of which are vital for the survival of all the others.

Last episode we saw that the very Oxygen we breathe is produced by tiny plankton often living in a symbiotic relationship with other life forms such as trees and seaweed, remove that plankton and within a very short space of time all life will cease.

Bees are another vital part of the chain, the little creatures that fly around, landing on plants and taking the nectar, they move around and help those plants to reproduce, take the Bees away and within a couple of years, all food on the planet will cease to grow!

Everything is finely balanced, but slowly reaching a critical point, and a point where we will have some hard decisions to make.


First of all, let us say from the start, Mankind isn't the problem, he isn't even the one who creates the problem, but he is the only species that can do anything about the problem.

Mankind has reached the point where there are seven-point seven billion people alive on Earth right now, and that number is expected to hit around ten billion by the year 2040.

The issue is that many believe that the Earth can't sustain that many in the long term, they estimate that by the year 2100 the Earth will reach an unsustainable level of population (around fifteen billion) and things will only get worse from there onwards.


Okay, enough of the 'doom and gloom' that's not what this article is about! It's more about looking at the precious place we've been given and looking to see if we can continue to live here while growing as a population and enjoying what the Good Lord has given us.

I believe we can, but like a crew having to work together, it's going to take us working together, each one doing their part, and encouraging others to take part in this great endeavour.


I have to admit, this is something that really frustrates me, see here we have recycling, but not every type of plastic can be recycled by our council. Personally, I think they're just lazy and don't want the hassle of sorting stuff, but I have to 'go with what they say' as every time we put Yoghurt cartons into the recycling they take them out!

Recycling will go a long way to helping us, but it's not the total answer, or as Stephen Hawking said, "It'll buy us time"

Greenhouse gasses

This one is a tricky one here in NZ, see at the moment we have a Labour government (read left-wing, but not as far as some think) at the moment, and the last time we had a Labour government they tried to introduce a 'flatulence tax' on Cows farting!

That is totally true! The reason was our biggest Greenhouse gas that New Zealand produces is Methane, and it isn't produced by Humans, but by the fifty million dairy cows and forty million sheep in the New Zealand agriculture sector, hence they tried to make the farmers pay for the greenhouse gasses they produce!

Okay, now you've had a good laugh at our expense (I really didn't need to tell you, but couldn't resist) Greenhouse gases are a concern, but some of the biggest contributors aren't what you think they are!

By the year 2040, the United Kingdom will stop the sale of all internal combustion engines within the UK, and it won't be long before other countries follow suit. Japan is already swinging into full production of electric cars, Buses that are all-electric and self-driven are already being trialled worldwide, trucks will follow soon afterwards, incidentally, the software for this was designed by the US Military and is already being trialled for combat situations!

All this is great, and we should give credit to those doing these things, but it's still not enough! Somehow we have to deal with the excess population, but how?

One view of the future (not a pleasant one)

One view of the future (and quite depressing)

Huxley's 'Brave new world' is a great piece of literature, but it's also pretty depressing in many ways.

Set in a time where the population is strictly controlled and things like 'love' are pretty much outlawed, it's a depressing way of looking at the way forward for Humanity.

Thankfully it's not the only one, and that's where we're going next

Do me a favour, tonight go take a look into the skies, take a look at the things looking down on us, and dream.

Earth is a spaceship, and she's got all the things required for life that a spaceship would need, but she's not the only spaceship in our vicinity, it's just that the others are going to take a 'little work' to get them ready for the crew, and there's enough room for everyone, it'll just take a bit of work getting there and making them comfortable enough to live. That's where what Neil, Buzz and Michael did comes in, they took the first steps for us, but what are we doing to follow up on those steps?

Awesome first step?

Great achievement, or awesome first step? or both?
Great achievement, or awesome first step? or both? | Source

The future

One of the biggest barriers to space exploration has been the expense. The cost of putting a rocket into space literally 'astronomical' in more ways than one.

Up until recently the cost of launching a satellite into near-earth orbit was a mouth-watering $150 million plus! But recently a few visionaries took a look at that expense and realised the answer lay in recycling!

What if you could recycle 90% of the parts used in launching a satellite? Just land them again, check them, refuel and re-launch.

Now those barriers are dropping away, and the possibilities are beginning to open up. SpaceX has predicted that the cost of launching a satellite like this could drop from $150 million to literally less than $1 million, but things are changing even more as time goes on.

Right now, both SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin are building spacecraft that will use this technology to go even further than we've ever gone before, further and further into the heavens, and they're using the profits from commercial ventures launching satellites and contracts with NASA (saving NASA money by the way).

Giving an idea of costs and savings. The Space shuttle cost $450 million per launch for astronauts to get into space, this was for a crew of up to eight.

When the Russians took over, their craft were older, but the costs for a three-man flight was $150-170 million.

Those costs are plummeting right now, SpaceX says it's latest rocket (the Falcon Heavy) costs $90 Million and can take up to eight once it gets certified for Human spaceflight.

And that's just one company, Both Boeing and Blue Origin are also driving for re-useable spacecraft and that will drive costs even further down.

As I said, take a look outside and start to dream.

But where are we likely to go?

Let's start looking at that next time.

© 2019 Lawrence Hebb


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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      12 months ago

      An informative article. The previous governor in Maryland invented a rain tax and there has been much talk in the US about methane from cows. SpaceX has sent 2 people to the ISS. Time will tell if the cost savings are realized. The Space Shuttle was supposed to be inexpensive but that turned out to be false.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I think we're only now beginning to realise the great achievement that those three brave men (and the four hundred thousand who worked on the programme in the sixties) did.

      They laid the foundation for getting us to other worlds, and for showing us that man will one day live on celestial bodies beyond the one on which he was created.

      In the next couple of years we will have a permanent base on the Moon, and a few decades from now there will be at least one city on Mars (Musk wants to put a million people there by the year 2100) and it will be all because of what was achieved on a rocket with one hundred times LESS of the computing power than my mobile phone!

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Sorry that I haven't replied earlier, but I think what you're doing with your son is awesome! You're teaching him the value of recycling in both monetary and ecological terms, that's engaging the creativity on two fronts. Great work bro.


    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Glad you enjoyed it.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Wall E was a great movie! I know what you mean about the trash though. We've finally changed the rules here because China has stopped taking it, and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

      I remember as s kid, the milk was delivered to your door every day, in GLASS bottles, whenever they were empty you washed them and put them out. The milkman would pick them up take them away and reuse them! Groceries got packed in paper bags (we get 'recyclable' bags now).

      What is happening with space exploration is very exciting, and is probably going to change the way Humanity does things.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      23 months ago from The Caribbean

      I believe with you that there is nothing fake in the story of man walking on the moon. Thanks for taking us back and bringing us forward. Really good read!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hey Lawrence this has got me thinking and rethinking. I simply have no greater compliment to my way of thinking.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      23 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Another wonderful chapter in your series, Lawrence. Packed with information and you make learning such a pleasant journey. Well done.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      23 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Lawrence, I find myself concerned not about running out of resources, but of running out of places to dump all of our trash. In the U.S. we have run into a serious problem because China no longer takes our plastic recycling. The Disney animated movie Wall-E is probably not too far from reality.

      Those who complain about the cost of space exploration have not considered the medical and technical advancements we have because of space travel. LED's, CAT scans, firefighting gear, chemical sensors, radial tires, insulin pumps, laser eye surgery are just a few. It's not money frivolously spent.

      Please know how much I enjoy and appreciate these articles. You put a tremendous amount of time and research into them.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Glad you enjoyed this and found it informative. I want to use this as a springboard to explore the Solar system AND use it to show how being 'green' also plays a huge part in Humanity's future.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      My friends laugh at my tiny footprint. I just don't use. We are doing a deal to take stuff to a recycle center where my son earns the money. But it takes us two weeks to even get a bag full. We just don't do plastics and aluminum. What soda, beer and bottled water I guess. We don't do those.

      But I think we are tiny. I think there are around 25 species of cockroaches but only one specie of Homo sapiens. Statistically there are more cockroaches in my house than people. I never use poison except vinegar and salt.

      I always wonder why man thinks he is so important. I sat on a billion year old rock the other day. I don't think I hurt the rock.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I was eight when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. A year before that the Movie '2001 a Space odyssey' came out and we really did think travelling to the stars was 'just around the corner'.

      Fifty years on we're about to not just go back to the Moon, but set up there permanently, and onwards to Mars and beyond.

      These are exciting times, but they're being driven partly by the need for more room to live as the human race continues to increase.

      Glad this hub made you think.



    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      23 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      As always (unless you're writing fiction), very educational and entertaining, my friend. Thanks for sharing your research with us. I know it took a considerable amount of work.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I know what you mean, and I wasn't trying to cause any arguments. The real point was what Stephen Hawking had said, "recycling is essential, but can only be a stop gap, as we look for another home".

      One day we will run out of resources, then what do we do?

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      23 months ago from North Central Florida

      Very interesting to ponder. My Daddy was alive when the landing on the moon occurred but died in 1987 at age 93. He was totally amazed by that. I can only imagine what he would think at all that has transpired and is about to since then. Thank you for sharing. Angels are headed your way this morning ps

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      23 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Don't get me started on recycling. I can go into quite a rant about that one....and plastics....where should I begin? But then there's the millions of people who just can't be bothered with any of this doom and gloom. As long as their favorite reality show is on the tv, all is well in their world.


      Have a great week, my friend!


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