“Space exploration is about to enter a third age where nations will cooperate to explore the solar system.
Nicolas Peter, a research fellow at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI), told the meeting in Vienna that the era of launching space missions to bolster national prestige was long past and that new opportunities for cooperation had emerged since the end of the Cold War. He predicted that an imminent third phase of space exploration could inspire nations to work together in a spirit of discovery.
The Vienna conference Humans in Outer Space – Interdisciplinary Odysseys on October 11-12, was billed as ‘the first comprehensive trans-disciplinary dialogue on humans in outer space.’ It brought space scientists face to face with historians, lawyers, political analysts, philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, writers and others. It was organised jointly by the European Science Foundation (ESF), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Vienna-based ESPI.
What Peter described as ‘Space Exploration 3.0’ is about to begin. He said that while humans will play a major role in space in future it would no longer be in the context of competing states but in cooperation between many parties. ‘It will involve industry, universities and other non-governmental organisations. This adventure will be driven primarily by a quest for knowledge, involving not only the hard sciences but arts and humanities as well. We’re evolving towards an open market situation where a lot of new actors will be able to join the new space race.’