Lives have been lost—billions of dollars have been spent—man has risked virtually everything to fulfill his dream of exploring, colonizing and ultimately conquering outer space. Here’s how that dream will become a reality.
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Throughout history, men have built ships, set up expeditions and ventured out into the vast unknown. Many have risked their lives to explore uncharted lands, discover and reap untapped resources, colonize virgin territories, and establish thriving, new societies.
But over time, our world has gotten smaller, crowded, with no more lush, uncharted regions to discover, no more fertile, uninhabited lands to explore and conquer. So, naturally, man has set his sights on the one realm that has eluded him for millennia: SPACE.
Throughout humanity’s brief time here on earth, people have gazed up into the starry night, and wondered, “What’s out there?”
Until the late 1950s, the likelihood of manned expeditions to other planets was considered science fiction—content for pulp magazines, comic books and movie serials. But on October 4, 1957, this thinking changed. The Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. The Space Age had begun.
Since Sputnik, astronauts have walked on the moon. Unmanned vehicles have landed on Mars and roamed its crimson surface. Probes have traveled to Jupiter, Saturn and beyond. Scientists have discovered planets in other solar systems. And the Hubble Space Telescope, orbiting 375 miles above us, peering into the farthest reaches of space, has unveiled the deepest portrait of the visible universe ever seen by human eyes. Composed of 800 exposures taken over the course of 400 earth orbits, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field reveals a vibrant, breathtaking view of an estimated 10,000 galaxies—and yet this is merely a snapshot of the universe!
“The Ultra Deep Field observations…represent a narrow, deep view of the cosmos. Peering into the Ultra Deep Field is like looking through an eight-foot-long soda straw” (HubbleSite.org).
These and other developments have caused many, from the top thinkers of science to average citizens, to ponder: “Are we alone in the universe?”
Since 1995, astronomers have used Doppler Spectroscopy and other scientific means to discover planets orbiting distant stars. Nearly all of these extra-solar planets were detected when astronomers noticed their gravitational effect on the movement of their parent stars, causing them to “wobble.” So far, more than 100 exoplanetary systems have been discovered. Due to the limitations of modern technology, scientists are only able to see planets that are the size of Jupiter or larger.
However, scientists have recently detected smaller, Neptune-sized worlds. Last September, The Daily Telegraph reported that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) “had found two significantly smaller planets between 10 and 20 times the size of Earth—around the size of Neptune—which pave the way for the discovery of rocky planets closer to the star and thus to its warmth; potential ‘Goldilocks’ planets.”
Could earth-sized worlds be next? Scientists hope so. Astronomers and other planet hunters are actively searching for extra-solar planets similar to earth’s size and mass, with “Goldilocks” conditions: not too big nor too small, orbiting not too close to its star, like Venus (which is a poisonous hothouse), nor too far from it, like Mars (which is too frigid and has a thin atmosphere). In other words, a planet that is “just right”—one that orbits in a habitable zone like earth, providing all the necessary conditions for sustaining physical life.
Of the star systems known to have planets, some experts suspect that about half may have an earth-like planet orbiting, at least partially, in a habitable zone, offering “suitable conditions for life to evolve” (“How Many Habitable Earths Are Out There?”, April 1, 2004, UniverseToday.com).
Some science experts suspect that earth-sized moons may be orbiting the extra-solar gas giants that have been detected: “All of the planets discovered so far are of similar mass to Jupiter, the largest planet in our Solar System. Just as Jupiter has four planet-sized moons, so giant planets around other stars may also have extensive satellite systems, possibly with moons similar in size and mass to Earth” (Ibid.).
To many, such a monumental discovery would reinforce the belief that, through evolution, life—perhaps even intelligent life—might exist on other planets. (To understand more about the theory of evolution, read our publication Evolution – Facts, Fallacies and Implications.) The discovery of earth-like worlds would drive men to further the advancements of space travel.
For years, science fiction writers have envisioned futuristic scenarios in which scientists utilize advanced technology to convert lifeless, barren planets into worlds filled with tropical rainforests, lush gardens and large bodies of pristine water, all teeming with life. This fictional process is called “terraforming,” which scientists and engineers are working to turn into a reality.
Take Mars, for example. With an average global temperature of minus 55 degrees Celsius, the red planet is far too cold to naturally sustain life. Plus, with a thin atmosphere of carbon dioxide, breathing in Martian air would be deadly. Science and engineering experts are using computer models to terraform Mars into a miniature earth-like planet.
One solution discussed is to pump ample amounts of gases into the Martian atmosphere, creating a runaway greenhouse effect. As Mars warms up, all of its carbon dioxide would evaporate into the atmosphere, which would continue to keep the planet warm.
“And how fast can Mars be heated up? ‘That depends…on how fast we make the gases.’ According to rough calculations, ‘if you had 100 factories, each having the energy of a nuclear reactor, working for 100 years, you could warm Mars six to eight degrees.’
“At that rate, to increase the Martian temperature to the melting point of water…would take about eight centuries” (Astrobiology Magazine, UniverseToday.com).
Another possible solution is to pump in greenhouse gases to convert earth-like regions, instead of terraforming the entire planet all at once.
In an interview with Astrobiology Magazine, former Martin-Marietta aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin, founder of the non-profit organization Mars Society, made this statement:
“If one considers the problem of terraforming Mars from the point of view of current technology, the scenario looks like this:
“1. A century to settle Mars and create a substantial local industrial capability and population.
“2. A half century producing fluorocarbon gases (like CF4) to warm the planet by ~10 C.
“3. A half century for CO2 to outgas from the soil under the impetus of the fluorocarbon gases, thickening the atmosphere to 0.2 to 0.3 bar, and raising the planetary temperature a further 40 C. This will cause water to melt out of the permafrost, and rivers to flow and rain to fall. Radiation doses on the surface will also be greatly reduced. Under these conditions, with active human help, first photosynthetic microbes and then ever more complex plants could be spread over the planet, as they would be able to grow in the open. Humans on Mars in this stage would no longer need pressure suits, just oxygen masks, and very large domed cities could be built, as the domes would no longer need to contain pressure greater than the outside environment.
“4. Over a period of about a thousand years, human-disseminated and harvested plants would be able to put ~150 mbar (millibars) of oxygen in the Martian atmosphere. Once this occurs, humans and other animals will be able to live on Mars in the open, and the world will become fully alive” (UniverseToday.com; emphasis ours).
Even when you consider that the technological advancements of the next 100 years would accomplish the goal much faster than current technology, it would be a very long time before uninhabitable planets can be terraformed.
From 1969 to 1972, NASA landed astronauts on the moon six times. Since the end of the Apollo moon landing program, manned space exploration has been limited to earth-orbit missions aboard space shuttles and the International Space Station (which is still under construction).
In January 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush unveiled plans to phase out the space shuttle program, replacing it with the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). The CEV spacecraft (to be completed between 2015 and 2020) would be designed to take astronauts to the moon, where they would build a lunar station. This would be used as a base of operations to collect Helium 3, a light isotope of helium, considered ideal as fuel for fusion power reactors.
“The moon has been collecting Helium 3 from the sun for the past four billion years…and 220 pounds of it is worth the equivalent of $100 million in coal and could provide enough energy to run a 1,000-megawatt power generating plant for a year” (“More Lunar Landings for NASA?”, September 30, 2004, The Monterey Herald).
The moon would also be used to train astronauts to work and live in hostile (and deadly) environments. Meanwhile, the shuttle would be used to ferry people, equipment and supplies to the International Space Station, until the station’s construction is fully complete.
The next destination for the CEV would be Mars. Taking advantage of the moon’s lower gravitational pull, the spacecraft would launch from earth’s satellite, reaching the red planet months later. Vital supplies would be waiting for the crew, sent ahead by robot spacecraft.
On average, Mars is about 48 million miles from earth, depending on where they are in their orbits around the sun. Using current technology, a trip to Mars and back would take more than two and one-half years—about 8½ months to get there, then almost 15 months of waiting before the earth and Mars are in the best positions for the 8½-month return trip.
Now consider: This would amount to about 32 months of living in hostile environments, without hope of being rescued in the event of a major setback or emergency. The chances of a successful manned mission to Mars and back are extremely low.
But what if man could dramatically reduce a journey to Mars to three months? In a recent press release, the University of Washington stated that it was developing a new technology—a magnetized-beam plasma propulsion, or mag-beam—that could dramatically reduce the time needed for space travel to and from Mars. Quick trips to even the farthest points of our solar system could become routine. Mankind would have a permanent presence in space.
Here is how the mag-beam would work: “…a space-based station would generate a stream of magnetized ions that would interact with a magnetic sail on a spacecraft and propel it through the solar system at high speeds that increase with the size of the plasma beam. [A] control nozzle 32 meters wide would generate a plasma beam capable of propelling a spacecraft at 11.7 kilometers per second. That translates to more than 26,000 miles an hour or more than 625,000 miles a day” (“New Propulsion Concept Could Make Possible 90-day Round Trip to the Red Planet,” October 14, 2004, uwnews.org).
The mag-beam is only one of several concepts being developed to advance space travel. Yet, even if this or some other technology becomes a reality, man would still be limited to this solar system.
With modern technology, it would take about 40,000 years to reach the nearest star in the triple system of Alpha Centauri. If man could travel at the speed of light—186,000 miles per second!—it would take 4.3 years, far too long for a safe journey. And other star systems are much farther away—15, 25, 50 light years and more.
According to Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. So even if man could develop technology to send manned missions to every planet and moon in our solar system, other star systems would remain out of reach.
What would happen if human beings did possess the ability to break the light-speed barrier and could visit distant star systems in only several months time? What if scientists discovered extra-solar planets and moons with earth-like conditions, and could terraform uninhabitable worlds in only a generation or two? What would man do? In his hands, what would the universe be like?
Undoubtedly, men would mine mineral-rich planets and planetoids, colonize earth-like worlds and terraform as many planets and moons as he could discover. Colonies would turn into towns and villages, which would then become crowded cities interconnected by miles of suburban sprawl. The surface of planets would become dotted with oversized, overcrowded megacities. Meanwhile, because of human nature’s shortsightedness and the pursuit of profit at all cost, worlds with fertile soil would eventually be depleted. Farmlands, beautiful countryside, scenic landscapes and lush rainforests would slowly disappear. Atmospheres would become polluted from industrial soot. Over time, entire societies would slowly be poisoned by the toxic environment in which they live. The rich would get richer at the expense of the poor, and justice systems would largely favor the powerful and influential—just like today. As he spread himself across the universe, man would bring with him the plague of war and the things that result from it: famine, pestilence, injustice, suffering, misery and death. Ultimately, every planet and moon in this and every other solar system would end up in the same condition as they are today—lifeless and in decay!
The world’s bestseller, and yet least understood book, reveals why.
But long before the physical universe was made, God created angels—immortal spirit beings. Notice: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding. Who has laid the measures thereof, if you know? Or who has stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God [angels] shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7).
One-third of all the angels were given a very special assignment: They were to manage and care for the earth, cultivating the planet into a beautiful garden paradise of peaceful meadows, green forests, sandy beaches and sparkling oceans.
But as time passed (perhaps millions, even billions, of years; the Bible does not say how long), something changed. It all began with Lucifer, an archangel, or cherub, whom God had appointed leader over the angels assigned to beautify earth.
Notice how the Bible describes this being: “…You sealed up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created. You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were upon the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created…” (Ezek. 28:12-15).
Highly gifted and talented, Lucifer was the most intelligent being God had ever created. As God ruled the universe from His heavenly throne, Lucifer ruled over the earth.
But, in time, Lucifer allowed his talents and gifts to swell his thinking. Vanity guided his thoughts. He soon became poisoned with pride: “…iniquity was found in you…Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness” (vs. 15, 17).
Instead of being grateful for his high position and authority, Lucifer became bitter and angry. He wanted more power—more responsibility—and he wanted it his way, not God’s.
Lucifer came to believe that he was greater than he actually was—even greater than the God who had created him! The archangel convinced himself that he knew better than God, and that he was even smarter than Him. Eventually, Lucifer believed that he should BE God! And he reasoned that the only way to do so was to take God’s place and remove Him from His heavenly throne!
Notice: “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isa. 14:12-14)!
Through lies and deceit, he convinced the angels under his charge that God and His ways were unfair and unjust. In turn, those angels convinced others of the same lies. Eventually, all the angels who lived on earth—one-third of all the angels God had created—rebelled against their Creator.
Though originally created with super-intelligence, the minds of the fallen angels became twisted and dark. They decided that their way—the way of selfishness, greed, and cruelty—was somehow better than God’s Way. And they concluded that, if their Creator would not do things their way, they would have to remove Him as Supreme Ruler!
Lucifer and the rebellious angels—now transformed into demons—invaded heaven to take over God’s throne: “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth…And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:3-4, 7-9). This future event mirrors Lucifer’s original rebellion against God’s throne.
But God—backed by twice as many loyal angels, and armed with the limitless power of His Holy Spirit—put down the rebellion, casting the evil spirits back to the earth. Then God changed Lucifer’s name, which meant “morning star” or “shining one,” to Satan the devil, which means “adversary,” “accuser” and “slanderer.”
Failing to overthrow God, Satan and his demons were full of hatred, bitterness and rage. Like spoiled children who could not get their way, they threw a “temper tantrum” and wrecked the face of the earth. Earthquakes trembled and shattered across the planet—volcanoes burst and overflowed with molten lava—poisonous gases filled the sky, choking everything that breathed, and shutting out the sunlight—the oceans and seas smashed against the land until the whole earth was covered with water. All physical life (dinosaurs, plants, insects and other prehistoric life) was destroyed.
Genesis 1:2 states that “the earth was without form [empty, useless, confused] and void [desolate, chaotic]; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” In Hebrew, the word translated was should actually be rendered “became.” In verse one, God created heaven and earth, then, in verse 2, they became empty and chaotic. Since “God is not the author of confusion” and always does things “decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:33, 40), He did not create the universe in a confused, chaotic state. It became that way.
Today, the scarred and beaten moons and planets, orbiting in decay within our solar system and throughout the universe, are remnants of that great angelic rebellion.
Satan’s rebellion proved to God that there was only one kind of being that could be trusted to manage and rule over His creation—other God-beings!
Mankind was created in God’s image, after the God “kind” (Gen. 1:26-27). God’s plan is to develop holy, righteous character in man. Godly character is: (1) the ability to know and decide right from wrong, (2) choosing the right way over the wrong way, and (3) despite all obstacles, doing what is right and rejecting what is wrong.
Since Adam, men have followed after their own way—which always leads to death (Prov. 14:12; 16:2, 25; 21:2). And Satan, whom the Bible calls the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4) and the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), continually broadcasts wrong attitudes, urges, thoughts and feelings to deceive the whole world (Rev. 12:9) into rejecting God. Most people even scoff at the idea that Satan exists—perhaps the devil’s greatest deception!
Under Satan’s sway, man—if he had the ability to colonize planets in other star systems—would wage war, shed blood and ultimately leave the universe exactly as it is: in decay.
Many philosophers and other thinkers have pondered the origins of war. God’s Word makes its roots clear: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts” (Jms. 4:1-3).
Simply put, all wars come from men’s desire to take from others. This is the opposite of godly character. In fact, it is Satan’s character—murdering, stealing and lying is what the devil does (John 8:44). And mankind, under his influence, follows in his footsteps, and would take the evils that have been unleashed on earth with him to other planets.
The apostle Paul writes that “the carnal mind is enmity [hostile] against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:7-9).
Human beings are naturally hostile toward God. They are His natural enemies. But God offers His Spirit to those who are willing to obey Him. And of those who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in their minds and guiding their lives, God says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (vs. 14). And He calls His children “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together” (vs. 17).
Now notice what God’s children will inherit:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the [creation] waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the [creation] was made subject to vanity [emptiness, futility], not willingly, but by reason of Him who has subjected the same in hope, because the [creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption [sonship], to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:18-23).
Just as the angels under Lucifer had been given the opportunity to manage and cultivate the earth, and ultimately the universe, man will have the same opportunity to do so under Christ’s rule!
Man will reach the stars—he will bring life to dead planets—but only after developing holy, righteous, godly character through the guiding power of God’s Spirit. If you would like to learn more about God’s plan for mankind, read our free book The Awesome Potential of Man.