This article appears in the April 23, 2021 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Three Mars Missions and the Galactic Species
Megan Dobrodt is the President of the U.S. Schiller Institute. She worked for several years directly with Lyndon LaRouche in a science and economics research team that he directly oversaw. She is also on the board of the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus and the LaRouche Legacy Foundation. Mrs. Dobrodt delivered this speech to the first panel, “Reversing the Cultural Wasteland—The Urgency of a New Renaissance, Creating a Planetary Culture Worthy of the Dignity of Humanity,” of the March 20-21 Schiller Institute Conference, “World at a Crossroad—Two Months into the Biden Administration.”
In February 2021, three heavenly visitors converged on the planet Mars—one a rover with a helicopter on board; another an orbiter-lander pair; and the third an orbiter that will study the Martian atmosphere. These three visitors, sent by the United States, China, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), respectively, are humanity’s emissaries, our robotic representatives, the extension of our human sensory apparatus, to another world.
To say a few things about each of these missions:
NASA’s Perseverance rover landed in Jezero Crater, which billions of years ago may have been a lake about the size of Lake Tahoe. Perseverance has a mission of searching for signs of past microbial life, preparing samples for a future sample return mission perhaps by the end of the decade, creating breathable oxygen from in situ resources, and flying the first helicopter on another planet.
China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter will study, among other things, Mars’ topography and geological structure, the characteristics of the Martian soil, and ground water distribution. In a couple of months, the orbiter will release a lander and a rover to the surface. China is the first nation to attempt an orbiter and lander in its first Mars mission.
The Hope orbiter of the UAE, whose space agency is just six years old, will study the atmosphere from top to bottom for at least one Martian year, including its composition, temperature, and weather, thus becoming Mars’s first weather satellite.
While the three missions come out of national space programs which are in various stages of development, all will perform important work over the next months and years that will contribute new knowledge, new discoveries to benefit humanity.
While all of this is occurring millions of kilometers off the Earth, it might just be the most important thing occurring on the Earth. As stated beautifully by the chair of the UAE Space Agency, the 33-year-old Sarah al Amiri:
The Emirates’ Mars mission has inspired the nation to look to the future and look to the skies. It has shown that collaboration across nations, geographies, creeds, in the face of remarkable challenges can forge brilliant outcomes for the benefit of us all.
Space Will Change the Human Species
This brings us to why humanity’s activity in space is an appropriate subject for a discussion of a renaissance culture on Earth. In one sense, it’s obvious that a successful culture would be pursuing the frontiers of science, of technology, for the benefit of its population; yes, that’s true; but there is a deeper cultural aspect to this. How will space exploration change humanity? How will it change our role in the Solar system, the universe, and therefore, our identity as a species of life?
Krafft Ehricke, a great technological and philosophical mind, a good friend of Lyndon and Helga LaRouche who served on the advisory board of the Schiller Institute, spent many decades contemplating this question.
On the one hand, he designed in great detail the steps that mankind must take in order to build up the infrastructure to live and work on the Moon. He designed a city on the Moon called “Selenopolis,” with its accompanying fusion power plants and industrial operations. He also imagined a distant though foreseeable future when humanity might have developed million-person satellite cities, which he called “astropolises,” each with its own orbit, like a planet, which would eventually have the ability to set off on multi-generational journeys beyond the Solar system, to other galaxies.
And in all of this, he asked not only how would humanity change the Moon, the asteroids, Mars; but how would becoming an extraterrestrial species change mankind? For example, what will be the national identity of the first person born on the Moon? How will he or she relate to the cultures of Earth? How would such a child see the role of the human mind in the universe as we bring life to other planets?
In a 1957 article called “The Anthropology of Astronautics,” Ehricke wrote the following:
The idea of traveling to other celestial bodies reflects to the highest degree the independence and agility of the human mind. It lends ultimate dignity to man’s technical and scientific endeavors. Above all, it touches on the philosophy of his very existence. As a result, the concept of space travel disregards national borders, refuses to recognize differences of historical or ethnological origin, and penetrates the fiber of one sociological or political creed as fast as that of the next….
[B]ecause of this, space travel holds perhaps the greatest general appeal for our complex and divided world. It seems to promise less immediate material gain than atomic technology. Yet, or perhaps therefore, its spiritual appeal is extremely powerful, symbolizing as it does that man, after all, has not yet lost his capability of cutting the Gordian knot, of exploding old notions which retard his development, and of overcoming seemingly invincible physical obstacles.…
If it can be done here, it can eventually also be done in other segments of our life today, where man seems to be hopelessly and perpetually deadlocked….
Lyndon LaRouche, another great scientific and philosophical genius, wrote and spoke for many decades about the necessity for a 40-year mission for Moon and Mars colonization, making such a program the centerpiece of his 1988 campaign for U.S. President. Many years later, in the midst of recruiting a new generation of youth, LaRouche wrote a paper called, “The Principle of Power.” This paper takes up the need to rise above the decadent, reductionist culture which had come to dominate science in the West, and to forge a notion, a new notion, of the human identity based not on sense perception, but on the power of the human mind in and over the universe. He ends that writing with the following charge:
We must change the image of man from the relatively poor conception prevalent today, to a notion of man in the image of the Creator, mankind with a mission in the universe, a mission in which persons should enjoy the right of a sense of participation in this great, universal mission. We require sovereign states, because that is the only way in which the effective cultural development of the new individual can occur; but we are otherwise one species with one unifying mission for all time to come. We must reflect that imparted sense of personal identity in each sovereign individual person. We must look upward to space, so that we are impelled, even within our daily missions, to see ourselves and one another in a better way than mankind generally has seen mankind in the past.
‘Look to Space To See Ourselves
In a Better Way’
So where will we go from here?
One of the most beautiful aspects of the three current Mars missions, as with other space missions underway, is that they are distinctly international in character; all were collaborative efforts of many nations. This month, Russia and China announced an agreement to build a base on the south pole of the Moon. The United States plans to land people on the Moon again within the decade. China will launch its space station this spring, and has plans for manned landings on the Moon and Mars in coming decades. The UAE had announced in 2017 that it would colonize Mars by 2117.
We can be proud of this year’s Martian successes, but compared to where we could have been had LaRouche’s vision been followed, we’ve been treading water for a number of decades, not because of technological challenges (those have, or can, be overcome), but because of spiritual challenges; a cultural degeneracy in, especially, the West. We’ve almost lost a sense of what Lyndon LaRouche and Krafft Ehricke pointed to, as the goodness of human creativity in our universe.
I suggest that we take Lyndon LaRouche’s advice, and “look upward to space, so that we are impelled, even within our daily missions, to see ourselves and one another in a better way than mankind generally has seen mankind in the past.”