4 October 2010. In their statement “Human Space Exploration - A Quest of Cultures around the World” space explorers from Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia and the US discuss common drivers for the human quest of the unknown and provide recommendations for decision-makers why societies need to engage in this trans-global quest.
The question why humans venture into space is as old as the space age itself. ESPI resident Fellow Gerhard Thiele invited space explorers from around the world to a workshop in Vienna in May this year to analyse this question from a cultural and historical viewpoint. The workshop and subsequent discussions on this topic resulted in the statement "Human Space Exploration - A Quest of Cultures around the World” . The statement shows that the word “exploration” can often not even be translated into another language as the concept of “exploration” has many different connotations in the various cultures. Nevertheless countries around the globe engage into this activity which points to the fact that common drivers for “exploration” exist in all cultures leading to the conclusion that the desire to explore is innate to the human being.
The discussion clearly revealed the distinct difference in the approach towards exploration used in a western or eastern society. While in the west attempts of controlling or overcoming nature can be seen in the eastern philosophy the concept of living in harmony with nature is of paramount importance.
The astronauts and cosmonauts also point out that the confrontation between robotic and human exploration is not fully resolved by the frequently used phrase “human and robotic exploration”. Indeed, exploration with the physical presence of a human being can in its full richness only be supplemented and not by replaced by other exploratory means, including robots.
The statement calls upon decision-makers to regard human space exploration as a global trans-cultural quest. It provides rationale and substance which supports and encourages decision-makers to further the cause of human space exploration by highlighting its trans-cultural dimension.
In a next step this statement will serve as basis for a roundtable discussion during the XXIII Planetary Congress of the Association of Space Explorers, which starts this week in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. It is foreseen to present a summary of the statement during the Second International Conference on Space Exploration at Ministerial Level in Brussels later this month.
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