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usa Science
2013.04.10


Does Hungary Have a Role to Play in the Space Age?

Newt Gingrich called for the expansion of space exploration programs and called for the establishment of a colony on the moon during the 2012 presidential campaign, earning himself the scorn of the so-called “sensible” Republican candidates.  The others complained that it would be expensive and that there Americans should focus on solving problems on the Earth before going to space.  Sensible yes, but astonishingly short-sighted, failing to account for the fortunes investment in any type of transportation infrastructure have made for those who were willing to make such an investment.  The sad reality is that while the United States is being “sensible” the countries slated to dominate the future world economy, China and India, are heavily funding their “crazy” space programs. 

Some 500 years ago, the Spanish were world leaders in seafaring, much like how the United States is currently a leader in space travel.  Christopher Columbus was rejected by the “sensible” leaders of Portugal, England, and France before he found the “crazy” King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain willing to fund his voyage west.  Spain prospered from Columbus’ routes and eventually colonized much of the Southeastern United States, becoming one of the wealthiest European nations during the early 1500s.  The investment in transportation paid off.  As it did with the English and French, who saw Spain getting richer and richer from its sea routes. 

In addition, the need for better, safer, and faster sea travel created opportunities to improve existing infrastructure and expanded markets.  It took Columbus 34 days to get to the New World and 94 days for the English pilgrims.  Today, you can travel from New York to Southampton in about 6 days by ship, and faster by transatlantic flight, for which there would have been little need absent Columbus’ discovery of the New World.

In order for Hungary to maximize its position in the world, I am of the opinion that it must be capable of utilizing its resources to become indispensable to as many people as possible.  What sort of resources does Hungary possess that other countries do not?  I would say look no further than the scientific field.  Hungarians were pioneers in nuclear physics, holography, and computing.  Hungarians are renowned in chemistry even today.  Hungary has the education infrastructure to produce world class scientists, and Hungary could make its mark on the world stage by becoming the Mecca of science and engineering.

Perhaps Hungarians could work with countries like China and foster promising relationships with corporations like SpaceX and find their niche in the realm of space travel.  Perhaps Hungary will benefit from mining asteroids, setting up a resource outpost on Mars, and producing and selling more and more efficient and effective space-faring vessels to countries willing to utilize them.  Although it may be expensive to get started, the potential for revenue from entire worlds is almost limitless, and who knows where advances in space exploration will take the fields of engineering and other sciences.

Some may say that the United States should not waste money on the space program, focusing instead on medicine and other worldly problems, and that’s a fair position to have, given all of the unknowns that could threaten space travel and the initial costs.  However, I would wager a hefty sum to say that those who reach to the stars shall reap its benefits.  That is something for the science-hefty Hungarians to ponder.

Kalman Julius Andrassy

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