I love space for a number of reasons. Primarily though, I think it's because there is so much out there to explore, there are essentially unlimited resources, and there is nearly unlimited "real estate". Space has always inspired me with a sense of awe and wonder. But it also holds huge opportunities on so many different levels: Earth science, life science, business, natural resources, travel, colonization, energy, communications, etc.
For me it's sort of like George Mallory said after he climbed Everest: "because it's there."
I don't want to oversimplify, because all of the superlatives you could use to talk about space are real. Inspiring, awesome, fantastic. But in those words lies the real allure of space. It's fantastic because it seems only a fantasy, a pipe-dream for the dreamers who believe we are meant to go there. But for myself, and others, it truly is that simple. The seduction of space is that we can go there.
I'm not crazy about space the way most other people are. I don't dream about going into space or anything; nor do i feel like its my life mission.
I'd love to go into space because of curiosity, and more importantly because its so beautiful, amazing and humbling. More for the spiritual fulfillment of it all, at the risk of sounding extremely corny!
I've met a few astronauts and asked them what was the most amazing thing about space. They said it was the enormous beauty of it all; many (including some macho ones) admitted to tearing up at the sight of the earth. In my imagination it must be one of the most beautiful things ever.
Can I have a simpler question, such as something on the origin of the universe or dark energy?
I care about space because it is the ultimate adventure. Endless vastness and void, extreme environments, unknown places no human being -- and possibly no living creature -- has ever seen for billions of years, sheer beauty, countless mysteries, a source of inspiration. And getting to space is the ultimate scientific, technological, and human challenge.
I don't think there is anything more important than outer space. Most humans have this skewed preconception that we are at the center of this great universe, that we are it's masters and that the vast open reaches belong to us, that they are ours to toy and tamper with, but that's not the case at all. Space is our future home. Inevitably, will evolve to adapt to it. There isn't much room left on this planet for our species, and folks laugh and shrug at that notion. Are so many of us that blind?
Space exploration is the driving force behind the development of self-sustainability using a minimum of resources. These technologies, over time, trickle down to the common folk for their primitive "home" applications. Survival on Earth and in society is going to get more and more difficult, but at the moment we are constantly being fooled into believing that we can fully operate as a species with 90% of its population living in shit, while the upper 10% live a life based on comfort and convenience.
People will throw hundreds of millions of dollars at ONE film about a crime fighter dressed as a bat, but NASA is struggling to get the proper funding?
I care about space because no one else really does.
Space isn't about adventure, or curiosity, or achievement. Space is about our survival, and I hope humanity will begin thinking as seriously about space as I do, for their own good.
I care for several reasons. The main one being that if I were born a few hundred years ago I would care as much about moving to the New World, or moving out west. Lets just say that politically I'm finding that I'm very much a misfit these days. The result is that I see a world that needs a "pressure relief valve". We need some place that the malcontents (be they communist, libertarian, or super-fanatically religious) like myself can go that puts large amounts of vacuum in between ourselves and the bulk of humanity.
Another reason is that, barring some new evidence to the contrary, "mind" is scarce in our neck o' the universe. I glory in the idea of mankind filling the void and shaping it to our whims, expanding life and mind as we go.
At another level I care because the resources found there can make you fantastically rich if you're willing to take the risks to go after them. I fully intend on my descendants sitting at the top of a small empire of resources and wealth. (I also intend on living long enough to meet and annoy the hell out of all of them.)
Gerard K. O'Neill asked the following question: "Is the surface of a planet really the right place for an expanding technological civilization?" My answer is no. But given some current thoughts on the rate of technological change, maybe we should reword the question a little: "If a technological singularity is inevitable, is it a good idea to have it happen on the surface of one single planet?"
Some very interesting responses here. I don't think I ever expected anyone to say that they're interested in space because they are a political misfit, but now that you mention it, that seems as good a reason as any.
I'm also glad we've had some people say they aren't really interested in space, yet appreciate the beauty and intrigue that it offers.