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What lies beyond the earth has been on our consciousness for centuries. in 1634 Johannes Kepler wrote about man's journey to the moon in his novel Somnium - a journey now becoming reality for the public with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and NASA's plans to contract a commercial firm to ferry cargo and people to the Space station before the end of the year. People may also be able to take an elevator to Space, made up of 22,000 miles of cables, sooner than originally thought possible.

The journey shows potential too, of going farther and faster: future technologuy could enable a round trip to Mars in five hours. Princeton astrophysicist Richard Gott III envisages that the colonisation of Mars could be a very real possibility and in 600 years, there could be eight million people living on the planet, with humans migrating to Space to ensure survival.

However, Space means so much more than our flights of fancy.Will there be a new race for Space as China and India join the game? Is the expected US dependence on Russian spacecrafts to reach its own space station a potential dispute or a measure of the need for global cooperation outside our planet? There is also concern that the American Space spying programme breaches privacy laws. Space could also play a great role in development by means of satellite communications for health as well as disaster management.

This is part of Outsights 21 Drivers for the 21st Century ™, a future-orientated scan of the 21 key forces shaping this century.


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