Well, it seems that most people reading this blog cannot wait to get out into the Solar System and further out into Space - as quick as we can.
Being of very much of the same frame of mind, I find it hard to think of reasons why we don't go - but I'll get to that. First I'd like to start with the sunny side of the equation.
Why should we boldly venture forth? Going out into nearby space, say the Moon and Mars, can teach us so much about our own planet, or even the origins of life. Understanding why Mars has a thin atmosphere and is relatively cold, as apposed to why Venus has enough atmospheric pressure to crack stainless steel nuts and has pretty raindrops composed of super-heated sulphuric acid could tell us a lot about how to manage our own world.
Then there is the technology. Without the moonrace we would probably still be using slide rules. The integrated circuit - among dozens of other critical technologies - were spin-offs from that rapid technological advancement. How much of our current economy depends on these new innovations and discoveries?
What about survival of the species? How long before we get the one-in-one-hundred-million year asteroid that wipes the ecological slate back to little scurrying creatures? Do we really want the descendants of the cockroaches to fill all the ecological niches? No fair!
Come on! We have to get off this rock!
Exploration has always had tremendous benefits for society: accessing new resources, opening up new horizons. Even giving persecuted minorities the chance to carve out their own future. At one time modern democracy was a political experiment created in the heady atmosphere of a new frontier. What new cultural experiments might be possible in the vast frontiers of Space?
Don't we owe it to future generations to be the ones who start the glorious second Age of Exploration?
OK. Now for the other side. . .
Can we really justify spending billions of dollars to hurl a few hundred kilograms out of orbit when the world is falling apart? What about the Great Ape? The White Rhino? The Dwindling Rainforests? The rapid heating of the atmosphere? How can we ignore what is happening right here on Earth: the starving millions, the failing ecosystems? How long can we go on before the lights go out right where we live?
Is retrieving a few kilograms of rock from some cranny on Mars at the cost of half a billion dollars really worth the death of one starving child? Do we really need to know the composition of lunar regolith?
Can't people see that this is nothing more than a distraction perpetrated by the political elite to take people's attention from the real issues by dangling shiny new toys? What about providing clean drinking water and education for the other three-quarters of the planet instead?
Don't we owe it to our descendants to get our own house in order before we start building new ones in orbit? Won't reaching for the stars now just perpetuate the same imbalance and inequality somewhere else?
OK. So what do you think? If there is anyone reading who thinks we should not go? Please tell us why. Who thinks the moon landing was a hoax?
PS: Anyone looking for a laugh could also cast an eye over the 10 movie reasons not to go into space. Featuring everything from energy-sucking space vampires to the ever-present threat of the astronaut's wife getting some sort of automaton back from orbit that is under the control of an evil many-tentacled space-entity:)