Paper Session III-C - The Cosmic Consequences of Space Exploration

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The Age of Space Exploration represents an era of discovery and scientific achievement without equal in human history. This paper examines the exciting technical and social consequences of space exploration C past, present and future. Emphasis is placed on the fact that the most significant space exploration missions of the past four decades started in Brevard County, Florida with a successful rocket ride into space from the Cape Canaveral/Kennedy Space Center complex. This paper provides a much needed perspective of how space exploration activities are helping answer some of humankind's most important philosophical questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? Are we alone in this vast Universe? Future missions, such as a human expedition to Mars and an advanced robotic mission to the intriguing Jovian moon, Europa, will help define the cosmic philosophy of an emerging Solar System civilization. As we develop a millennial perspective and continue our search for life elsewhere in the Solar System, we will also learn more about our role and place as intelligent species in a vast and beautiful Universe.