"Mike is very much into space," President Trump said to reassure the public that Mike Pence, the Vice-President would be a safe pair of hands in chairing Trump's newest proposal to revive the US National Space Council. Whilst awkwardly comedic, the event, with the self-declared "space-aficionado" President failing to congratulate the only female astronaut in attendance, as well as making Buzz Aldrin's eyebrows raise in despair at almost everything uttered from his mouth, did bring the question of space back onto the political agenda.
Space has traditionally been a characteristic of the bipolar world of the Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union fought for ideological dominance not only on Earth, but also extraterrestrially, with the Soviet Union becoming the first nation to send a man in space, only to be rebutted by the United States, placing a man on the moon. With the end of the Cold War, space is no longer a restricted field, with new players such as India, China, private sector organisations, and, crucially, Europe, experimenting with their own space research programs.
However, this new revival of interest in space, ultimately brings with it questions surrounding our own ability to explore space in the manner we should. Star Trek calls space the "final frontier," but in the eyes of many leading experts, space is not the final frontier but instead the "only frontier" that we have left. Our space endeavours have many similarities to the colonial era; Colonialism ultimately brought about new opportunities for business, developed previously primitive states, and brought about a sense of pride for our states. At the same time, colonialism destroyed entire peoples through genocide and destroyed our environmental resources through the industrial revolution. We have polluted our waters, destroyed our forests, and melted our ice caps as a result of climate change. We have literally exhausted every resource available to us on Earth, yet still have the sheer audacity to believe that we can conduct space exploration in a manner that is both beneficial to Earth's people and also sustainable to not only our planet, but entire universe.
This ultimately leads us back to the idea of Europe at the forefront of space exploration. Firstly, we must ask whether a united European space exploration program is the most effective, and secondly, whether it is possible to maintain a space exploration program that not only brings scientific discovery, but is also one we can be proud of in sustaining our planet.