Towards an International Space Agency?

Could an International Space Agency may be a solution for the upcoming years? Interstellar, Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gravity, The Martian… All of these movies depict a human life in outer space, whether it be in our Solar system on a mission onboard of a space station, or in distant galaxies. They are all demonstrating at different levels of organisation how human life coordinates in outer space. For example, the movie Gravity is the closest to our current state on a technology level, on a type of mission level, as it is about astronauts on a space mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Movies such as Star Wars or 2001: A Space Odyssey are depicting an enormous advancement in the conquest of outer space as humanity is deeper and deeper in the depth of space. Human beings are using a technology completely unknown and even master the laws of physics. On the contrary, more recent movies like Interstellar or The Martian, finally show us a fairly close future, something quite realistic. A future towards which humanity is leaning. Institutions have shown a clear will to go to Mars and even to start a few colonies on the “Red Planet”. A mission to go to Mars is something that will for sure happen in just a few decades. The story of Interstellar is likely to become our reality: the fact that a major climate change pushes us to leave Earth to find refuge elsewhere. Space stations like the “Cooper Station”, which is a space colony located in orbit of the planet Saturn, might also be our future, but this time in maybe a hundred years.

Space conquest and space occupation by humankind may be considered as the next steps for the human adventure. It’s on a much bigger scale yes, but humans always felt the need to explore and to know more and more about its environment. Go on adventures and discover the world is something visceral in human beings. As well to master a fear of the unknown, as to enrich and grow its knowledge, or answer an existential question that humanity has asked itself since the dawn of time, exploration is inherent to human beings. Thus, outer space is considered only as the next step, as the logical continuation of human adventure. Space exploration is still in its infancy, since we have so far only visited the nearby suburbs of Earth. To achieve an ambition as vast as the conquest of outer space, an international collaboration of all the countries will be very much needed. We have to take in consideration that if we look at the scale of space, the Earth should be considered as a whole. People will come from the Earth nation. We can no longer divide Earthlings into different nations. We can consider this both as symbolic, people who are conquering outer space come from planet Earth, and as gaining a consequent weight in order to settle. Nationality should be seen as a concept that should be overcame once in outer space.

Currently, the project demonstrating one of the greatest international cooperation is the International Space Station (ISS): it can be considered both as a technical achievement, but also as a success of cooperation between States. This shows that cooperation between countries is very fruitful. Countries from different part of the world participated in this project and took part in this adventure such as Canada, Japan, Russia, the United States of America, Brazil and Europe through the European Space Agency (ESA). It was actually a precedent collaboration that initiated the major project of the International Space Station (ISS) and it’s quite a surprising one: at the beginning of the 1990’s, the United States of America and Russia collaborated to create the Shuttle-Mir program. Joint missions are being set up, and American astronauts are going to the Russian Mir station and vice versa. This collaboration therefore gave an impetus towards the creation of a space program with a wider, more global collaboration. An agreement was then signed between fifteen states on January 29, 1998 which provided for the construction of the International Space station (ISS).

Therefore, like the example of the ISS shown above, if mankind really wants to explore and conquer space, global cooperation is more than necessary. It will only be when the nations have combined their financial, technical, raw materials and intelligence resources, all of this to form a cooperation, that the progress will be sufficient. The desire to go and land on Mars and to explore the planet should be the perfect case study to demonstrate the obligation of a completely international cooperation through an International Space Agency (ISA). Going to Mars is a goal that is distant and at the same time very close. The concept of a manned mission on the “Red planet” has been emerging as futuristic in recent years. Indeed, for a few years, the fever of the conquest of space has given way to a quieter use of space, more focused on the benefits brought to humanity. The race for the Moon has given way to a phase of stabilisation of launch technologies or at least, to phase that aroused less interest from the general public. However, recently, we have been observing that a new impulse has been given to the space conquest, that the fever of the conquest of space is gradually regaining spirits and now, organising a mission to go to Mars is a wanted and supported project by many people. Mars has always aroused a certain fascination for Earthlings, in particular with its “Little Green Men” which are now part of pop culture.

If going to Mars in the past was almost unthinkable, it’s something we can do almost now. NASA has expressed its desire to send its first manned mission to Mars in 2033. Such a mission will be unprecedented: it will be the first time that a space mission will be this long (about two to three years) and that it will also be far from Earth. A long-term mission to Mars is therefore something completely realist now even if its organisation take time to be able to clear up all the facets of such a trip. Indeed, there are still several technical challenges to overcome: we need calculate the launch window very precisely, we need to organise the daily life of the astronauts of this mission by coordinating the food, the construction of a camp, the scientific material for the missions which they will have to carry out, we also need to prepare the astronauts for a mental challenging mission, we also need to calculate which quantity of fuel will be needed as well as creating and building the ship. In conclusion, we can say that there is still a lot of work to do. But NASA is not the only one wanting to go to Mars, SpaceX also wants to organise a mission to go there. Elon Musk even shared his crazy dream of colonising Mars with a fleet of one thousand spacecraft and ultimately a city of a million people. Several organizations are therefore starting to compete in this area. Colonial projects are starting to see the light of day. A mission on Mars is no longer an area reserved solely for science fiction.

It is in the light of all this questioning, and of all this projects that we fully understand the need for an International Space Agency (ISA) which will establish a common program and course of action. It would define the objectives of humanity on a short, medium and long term. The first one could be the organisation of mission on Mars. For a more medium program, the future International Space Agency (ISA) may ask itself whether we should focus on establishing a colony on Mars or if we should continue the exploration of our Solar system. This agency would serve as a guide and coordinator for humanity, it would erase the tensions that arise with the appearance of various nationalities. The future of humanity lies in space but also in the creation of an International Space Agency (ISA).