JD Lasica / Creative Commons

We all have dreams. Whether it’s sending a car into space or attempting to save the future of the human race, SpaceX founder Elon Musk believes that nothing is impossible if you shoot for the stars, or in this case, Mars.

Somewhere out there, deep in outer space, there is a red Tesla floating around. I can understand why that has some people on edge. I mean, here in Los Angeles we tend to get anxious at the thought of cars driving on a flat road. So to have one plunging itself in the atmosphere at an accelerating speed is strange to say the least.

And yet despite those concerns, Musk believes that this is only the beginning of something great. He is confident that with continued exploration, we could potentially establish life on Mars within a few decades.

His big ambitions, however, have come at an even bigger cost. According to an estimation by the LA Times, the company has received well over $4.9 billion dollars in government incentives. Many people have criticized Musk and SpaceX for using government subsidies on something that doesn’t seem to benefiting. Nevertheless, we have to understand that not all great things have immediate results. The potential to save our entire species seems like a good enough incentive to want to invest in.

“It’s insurance of life as we know it,” Musk tells Rolling Stones Magazine. “And it makes the future far more inspiring if we are out there among the stars and you could move to another planet if you wanted to.”

You might be wondering why a man who is in charge of creating fancy electric cars is so infatuated with space exploration. Technically, he wants to be able to put millions of people into a metal tube and ship them to an unknown planet 55 million miles away from ours. It is important, however, to look at the bigger picture and understand that Earth, this gigantic place we call home, is so much smaller than we can possibly comprehend and there is so much more out there in space worth learning about. If we as humans are in fact the most dominant species we know of, educating ourselves and investing our time into colonizing more than just one tiny speck of the universe should most certainly be a priority.

The problem with our society is that we crave knowledge, and yet we fear things we do not know much about. We are afraid of problems we may not yet have answers to. It is for this reason that many people brush off the topic of space exploration and the potential to colonize a planet that is not the one we have isolated ourselves on for thousands of years.

As hard as it may be to admit, nothing good lasts forever. We have to realize that human beings have used and abused the planet we currently reside on. Quite frankly, it is only a matter of time until Earth becomes completely uninhabitable, and I don’t know about you, but somewhere down the line, I don’t want my kids to die just because the people who lived on this planet before them didn’t give a damn about finding an alternative. It would be nice to know that our future generation has another place to lean back on once this one is completely worn out.

“Becoming an interplanetary species and space-faring civilization is not inevitable,” Musk explains to TED’s Head Curator, Chris Anderson, in an interview. “I want to be clear. I’m not trying to be anyone’s savior. I’m just trying to think about the future and not be sad.”

It’s time we use our expertise and technology to explore beyond Earth. It’s time we join the other planets and comets and stars and maximize our civilization’s ability to survive and thrive.

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