27 May 2010. Astronauts, cosmonauts and space experts from Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia, and the United States of America met at ESPI to find common rationales and future perspectives of human spaceflight based on the respective cultural backgrounds of their countries and regions.
Led by ESPI Resident Fellow Gerhard Thiele, a group of astronauts, cosmonauts and space experts met at ESPI for the first time to attend a Workshop on Human Spaceflight Exploration. Participants included the Chief of the Astronauts at the Canadian Space Agency Jean-Marc Comtois, European Space Agency’s astronaut Jean-François Clervoy, former astronaut Mamoru Mohri from Japan, former Russian cosmonaut Sergey Avdeev, former US astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman from the United States and Takao Doi of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs as observer.
Based on their long experience in human spaceflight as well as their current responsibilities at universities, science organisations or industry, participants brought together their different cultural perceptions of Human Space Exploration in an attempt to identify common motives and aspirations for it. They presented how Human Space Exploration is understood within the cultural and societal background of their respective countries and exchanged views on its broader potential benefits for all mankind. During the workshop the subject was approached globally in both its humanistic and technological aspects. The participants presented how Human Space Exploration is perceived in their respective countries and discussed a common definition for it. They noted that although the same terms are used internationally to describe Human Space Exploration, their cultural connotations vary. However, participants agreed that it is in the nature of all human beings to expand the limits of their knowledge and perception of their surrounding environment and that Human Space Exploration is pivotal in meeting that need. They also noted that Human Space Exploration is crucial in increasing scientific knowledge across a wide range of research activities and by doing so it increases the chances for the prosperous development of all people on Earth in the long run. Finally, knowledge in itself was identified as one of the most valuable capitals that the present generation would inherit to its descendants.
The workshop noted that in the Far East the philosophical concept of a harmonious natural equilibrium is key to judge and range human capabilities and activities. Consequently, Human Space Exploration is a responsibility that mankind has to assume not only for its own benefit, but also for the benefit of every living form on Earth. The question was asked whether sending out life into the universe does not constitute an ethical imperative. Moreover, the participants were convinced that Human Space Exploration driven by these noble goals will be leading to a worldwide identity at least in this area.
A joint statement reflecting the discussions of the workshop is currently being prepared and shall be published in the near future. Thus ESPI further pursues its studies on humans in outer space and continues to provide decision-makers with an analyses and an independent view on the topic of Human Space Exploration.
Participants of the workshop (from left): Sergey Avdeev, Mamoru Mohri, Jean-Marc Comtois, Gerhard Thiele, Spyros Pagkratis, Jean-Francois Clervoy, Jeff Hoffman and Takao Doi