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The galactic future

  • Published at 11:49 pm January 16th, 2019
The race for space REUTERS

The right to using outer space will become another point of discord

Inter-galactic life, travel, and battle was foreseen more than 50 years ago in fictional representations aired on television serials. However, there was still something spectacular about the dark side of the moon recently accessed by China through Chonge’4. It was uncharted territory. 

There are facts to be sought, but all of a sudden, we now have a third contender seeking supremacy in space exploration.

It expresses a commitment by China not to be left behind and essentially challenges the supremacy of the United States and Russia in seeking answers to all that is unknown about space. India has also branched out with its Jupiter probe -- a surprise, considering the poverty it still hasn’t been able to address. 

Different probes are scouring the universe, attempting to decipher whatever details of individual planets. Given the distances concerned, most of these results will take time to be recovered and assimilated. The idea of establishing settlements for man on the moon has progressed from just being a concept, and a worrying aspect is preparing for a time when a race for information turns out to be claims to certain parts of the solar system. 

For all the speed of the rockets currently being sent out as probes, mostly unmanned, there are technical issues such as finding the wavelengths to transfer images, as Chonge’4 has demonstrated. A relay station has to resend images flashed by Chonge’4 for them to be visible from China. 

It establishes that direct communications from the dark side of the moon either requires new technology not yet available, or simply that the radio waves follow different algorithm patterns that haven’t been worked out yet. Artificial intelligence, much trumped recently, also hasn’t been of help and so old-fashioned but trusted methods are being employed to beam back that which is hidden from the natural eye.

A few years ago, the US defense secretary said preparations were on to create a space battle-fit section in their forces, an indicator that violence in space can’t be ruled out. And though nothing has been stated, China and Russia won’t be too far behind such preparations, abhorrent as the thought may be. 

Manned missions may have to take place sooner rather than later to clear outer space of the tonnes of garbage strewn around by satellites and other electronic equipment that have outlasted their shelf-life. That itself could spark galactic disputes.

The United Nations, stumbling as it is in resolving global conflict and issues, hasn’t laid out principles of space engagement. But with passenger travel to the moon and back being realistically planned by several companies, and people are being signed up to it, the right of using outer space will become another point of discord at some point in time.

There are questions about whether human life is sustainable on other planets, and these agendas are being pursued for all the economic and societal morass our mortal world is going through.

The heavens hold the secrets to the creation of the universe, or so is believed. 

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist. He can be reached at [email protected]