Chapter 7-1

The View from the High Grounds

"The past is but the beginning of
a beginning, and all that is
and has been is but the twilight
of the dawn."

H.G. Wells,
The Discovery of the Future, 1901

The climb into space has made us unique. We are the first generation of human beings to study the universe directly from the high ground of space itself. From this new perch, we have made discoveries that would have seemed impossible to the ancients and unbelievable even to the scientists of a generation ago.

For all our climbing, we have not reached the summit, only a ridge from which we can better glimpse the mountains beyond. We have reached a point from which to observe, a base from which to explore further, and we have learned how best to continue our investigation of the universe.

Because we have found so much, we now know how much more there is to learn and how to proceed to study it. The necessary tools exist or can be built. The spacecraft can be flown, and their data deciphered. A few new missions, already approved, are under development. Many more are being intensively studied, so that they too may come to fruition. The future missions, and the research that they will undertake, concern the subjects that we have already begun to explore: the solar system, Earth-Sun relations, the outside universe, and life.

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