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ESF launches “Humans in Outer Space” book – focusing on humans


New book to examine humanity aspects in space explorations

Although there are still arguments about whether humans are destined for space, we have had a permanent human presence in Earth’s orbit since the first crew occupied the International Space Station eight years ago, and the technology for private space flight is in the making. But, if people leave Earth in large numbers, what will we do? More importantly, who will we be?

These questions and more are addressed in the new book Humans in Outer Space - Interdisciplinary Odysseys, by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the European Space Policy Institute.

The book is the outcome of the Humans in Outer Space: An Interdisciplinary Odyssey conference held in Vienna last year. That meeting, organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI), brought together humanities researchers from around the world, to bring their perspectives to a field long the preserve of engineers and physicists. The goal was to put human’s extra-terrestrial endeavours in context by applying the analytic techniques of the humanities and social sciences.

“We can compare space to the exploration of the New World in the 16th century. That is the character of the exploration we are conducting now when we go out from the Earth,” says Professor Dr. Kai-Uwe Schrogl, the Director for the European Space Policy Institute.

He explained that Humans in Outer Space - Interdisciplinary Odysseys explores the stages of human exploration of space described in the Vienna Vision, which calls for greater participation of humanities into space policy. The first two “Odysseys” described in the Vienna Vision are either happening now or planned for the next few decades: first, a permanent human orbit of Earth, then a return to the moon, and a human landing on Mars. The third Odyssey is the exploration of worlds beyond our solar system, and possible contact with other life forms.

Humankind’s journey through these stages will put us face to face with the kinds of challenges that can only be resolved with reference to the humanities: questions of law, religion, ethics. How would religion cope with extra terrestrial life? How will humans cope with long periods in isolation, utterly dependant on technology for survival? What are the political implications of human settlements on other worlds? According to Professor Dr. Ulrike Landfester from Universität St. Gallen, these questions and others must be considered before humankind begins the transition from Homo erectus to Homo celesticus.

“We are now running the risk of constructing ideas about outer space reality which might at some future time impede our dealings with it,” she said.

Humans in Outer Space - Interdisciplinary Odysseys and the Vienna Vision, aim to move the conversation about space exploration away from rocket capacity and back to human capacity. Over the last year, the Vienna Vision has been circulated amongst policy makers and experts.

More information about the activity please click hereresearch-areas/space/activities/inif-activities.html

Notes to editors

More information about the book Humans in Outer Space - Interdisciplinary Odysseys

The space-faring nations are heading for the human exploration of the Moon, Mars and Near-Earth Objects. They might be soon prepared with regard to technology development. But they also need to benefit from the humanities (history, philosophy, anthropology), the arts as well as the social sciences (political science, economics, law) for mastering this immense endeavour.

The European Science Foundation (ESF), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) have organised the first comprehensive trans-disciplinary dialogue on humans in outer space. It investigates the human quest for odysseys beyond Earth‘s atmosphere and reflects on the implications of the findings of extraterrestrial life.

The articles in the book present, for the first time, a comprehensive analysis by all relevant disciplines responding to the questions of how, why and with what goal humans explore outer space. More than twenty experts shed light on the thrilling perspectives space exploration provides for science, technology, politics and culture.


Foreword (ESF & ESPI)

Introduction –

1. Setting the scene: Summary

- Micro-organisms and extraterrestrial travel

- Future Encounters: Learning from the Past?

- Are we alone? Searching for life in the universe and its creation

- What‘s the story, mother? Some thoughts on science fiction film and

space travel

- Aiming ahead: next generation visions for the next 50 years in space

2. Can we compare? Summary

- Inter caetera and outer space: some rules of engagement

- Celestial bodies: Lucy in the sky

- Why we had better drop analogies when discussing the role of humans in space

3. “Spatiality“

- Space as a source of inspiration: Summary - Missing the important: how we talk and write about space

- Towards a new inspiring era of collaborative space exploration. Providing inspiration through international cooperation

4. First odyssey: humans in earth orbit: what effect does it have? Summary

- With the eyes of an astronaut

- Human spaceflight, technology development and innovation

– Human machine cooperation in space environments

- Space law in the age of international space station

5. Second odyssey: humans in space exploration: what effects will it have? Summary

- Humans - more than the better robots for exploration?

-Humans leaving the earth – a philosopher‘s view - Human spaceflight as a matter of culture and national vision

- The need of a legal framework for exploration

6. Third odyssey: human migrating the earth: why we should think! Summary

- Mars as a place to live?

- Past, present and future

- Philosophical and religious implications of extraterrestrial intelligent life

- E.T. culture

7. The Vienna Vision of Humans in Outer Space

Notes to editors:

The aim of this ESF’s Standing Committee for the Humanities (SCH) and European Space Sciences Committee (ESSC) collaboration was to set up the first comprehensive and cross-disciplinary

European dialogue on human space exploration and humans in outer space; it was also to go beyond seeing humans ‘only’ as tools in exploration, or as the best possible robots, and to address the inherent human quest for odysseys beyond the atmosphere. A challenge was also to bring together scholars who usually have few reasons to meet in scientific forums, and exchange views in a non-traditional fashion. Non-traditional because, beyond the technical aspects linked to human presence in space that have been studied by space scientists and engineers for the last five decades, humans in space pose challenges that go much further than the ability to survive.

In March 2007, an ESF strategic workshop was organized at the University of Genoa entitled ‘Humans in Space. A Humanities Assessment of the Implications of Space Sounding and Exploration’, addressing some of the issues identified above. The central theme was the role and situation of humans in orbit around the Earth, their place in exploration, and the search for life in the universe. Should humans explore space? Do the (cultural and economic) drivers for exploration require human participation? What are the human abilities and reasons to adapt to such extreme conditions as presented by the space environment beyond Earth? Are there scientific grounds that should lead humans to be prepared for ethical and societal consequences of an encounter with extraterrestrial life?

The interaction resulting from this workshop paved the way for a conference on Humans in Outer Space, held on 11-12 October 2007 in Vienna, locally organized by the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) with support of the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT) and the financial support of the European Space Agency (ESA). Scholars from various disciplines and backgrounds, including history, cultural and religious studies, the arts, anthropology, policy, law, ethics and economics, but also space sciences and technology, presented their views.

The conference has been a real success, yielding the so-called ‘Vienna Vision on Humans in Outer Space’. It was successful not only on a scholarly level, through discussions with colleagues in other disciplines with whom, indeed, regular interaction is not self-evident, but also in demonstrating the necessity and productive contribution of humanities and social science disciplines in understanding the universe in which we live, or will live in the future.


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