Famed astrophysicist and “Cosmos” host Neil deGrasse Tyson believes that future exploration of space could drive peace on Earth.
We caught up with Tyson at a press event for the series as he and his “Cosmos” team previewed season three of the documentary series, “Possible Worlds,” at New York Comic-Con.
“The next 60 years, I think that the solar system can become our backyard. If that happens we can exploit resources that are otherwise rare on Earth but are plentiful in space,” he told Fox News.
The astrophysicist cited the many wars that have been fought over access to limited resources. “If space becomes our backyard, an entire reason for why we have had wars in the past goes away,” he noted. “So the exploration of space may be the greatest peace driver there ever was. That's my hopeful thought."
NASA recently celebrated its 60th birthday and so did Tyson. Born the same week the space agency was created; the scientist and author has built up a huge fan base as “Cosmos” host.
Reflecting on NASA’s 60th, Tyson says it’s important to remember how it all started. “There's a lot of delusionary thinking with regard to space exploration,” he explained. “We created NASA not to explore space, we created it in response to… the Soviet Union. They had launched Sputnik in October 1957, one year later we created NASA.”
“We remember ourselves as pioneers in space when practically every decision we ever made in space was reactive to a previous decision made by the Russians. So when you understand that that's what drove us into space and then you find out the Russians actually are not going to successfully get to the Moon, it is completely obvious why we stopped going to the Moon and why we never move on to Mars.”
“Had we continued on that arc we would have had settlements on Mars by the 1980s and people were so disappointed,” he added. “We could have had settlements on Mars, but you have to remember what has to drive it and just wanting to go there is never sufficient to make that happen.”
NASA has a goal of sending a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.
As for taking audiences through the “Cosmos” again when the series returns in 2019, he says the epic show goes well beyond a “put your thinking cap on” documentary.
“I think it's because Cosmos has successfully crossed multiple branches of science in ways that make it clear to you why they matter to you,” he said. “In ‘Possible Worlds’ it’s an exploration of all the worlds that did become worlds and those that didn't and why and what forces of chemistry and biology and physics influence their fate … so much of it is sort of allegory for how, what kind of shepherds are we, of Earth, and our own fate here on Earth?”