The US must to continue to prioritize research and development, especially through NASA
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As the NASA dives into their Artemis program, Americans have begun to wonder what comes after the moon. Is it a stepping stone to other planets? And if so, what does human life on those planets look like? But if we as a species truly intend to travel to distant planets like Mars, there are some basic questions on procreation outside of Earth’s gravitational effect that must be answered.

I grew up in the era of Kennedy. The era of the space race. The overwhelming comradery over putting a man on the moon. I watched as this nation came together and celebrated an achievement that many thought was impossible. And I watched as we repeated this impossible feat again, and again, and again.

The start of a new decade is a chance to reflect back on the past achievements and look to where the future is going to take us. We can do things now that 10 years ago seemed impossible. Think about it: computers that fit in our pockets, cars that can park themselves- these are all things that we only dreamed about, and many could not fathom. And while they may be shy of the flying cars many thought we would have by now; these achievements are still massive life changing inventions of the future.

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But our drive to innovate should not stop here. As a nation we should prioritize the research and development that further innovation and imagination. We should be teaching our youth to dream up the impossible and then make it happen. Because when the United States comes together and stands behind a common sense of curiosity, incredible things occur.

So, this begs the question- what is the next big impossibility the United States can stand behind? What are we working towards? We’re already building computers that can think for themselves, we have lifelike robots that speak, and small ones that can do basic tasks. We have AI powered personal assistants in our homes, on our phones, and in our cars. And I am positive someone out there has designs for that flying car.

So: what’s next?

If you ask me, there is still quite a bit we can learn from space. Sure we have walked on the moon, but only robots have walked on Mars. And if we’re going to get to where sometime in the near future a person can walk on Mars- we need to start researching what that looks like today.

I am a firm believer that sometime in the near future people will not only walk on other planets, but they will live there too. It may not be in my lifetime, it may not be in yours, but it will happen. But before we can get there, we need to invest in the science that will allow us to survive in space.

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The trip to another planet would be a one-way trip. There is no return to earth. And if there is no return, how do we survive? How do we reproduce? These questions need answers. Personally, as a veterinarian, I want to know how the human body develops in zero gravity and when exposed to deep space radiation. Do your long bones grow long? Are your lungs lung shaped? Does the nervous system expand the way it should?

We know when we grow plants in zero gravity they become amorphous. The stems do not grow up and the roots do not grow down as they would on earth. If the lack of gravity affects plants this way, how does it affect humans? As of now, I have significantly more questions than answers.

This type of research would not only be applicable to life in space. Studying the effects of zero gravity on human development can lead us to new understandings of how to combat diseases or new ways to treat muscular skeletal issues. This type of research may just be the key to unlocking ideas and technologies we have not even imagined yet. And this would not be the first-time research NASA has done has impacted your daily life.

Believe it or not, quite a few things you use daily, would not exist without the U.S. Space Program. Camera phones, laptops, memory foam, and ear thermometers can all trace their roots back to NASA.

Which is why we as a nation have a responsibility to continue to fund and prioritize research and development, especially through NASA. And we have a responsibility to continue to ask questions and dream up the impossible. I don’t know what the next big life changing invention will be, but I’m challenging you to dream big and make it happen. And maybe, by doing so, we will be able to live in space in your lifetime.

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