When will Europe have a moonbase? Fifty years after the first manned lunar mission, China, Russia, the United States, Japan, Canada, and Europe have all announced plans to station permanent bases on (or in orbit around) the moon. Does this herald a brave new era of international cooperation in space? Or will it be a geopolitical scramble for the stars? Elon Musk has also tweeted his interest in establishing a moonbase, so will the private sector lead the way?

We recently spoke to European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, to see what she thought. Our interview with Cristoforetti is the latest in our #Ask series, which has included the CEO of the World Bank, Kristalina Georgieva; European Central Bank President Mario Draghi; President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly.

What did our readers think? We had several readers – including Henry, Daniel and David – asking very practical questions about eating, exercising, and avoiding conflicts among colleagues in space. What was day-to-day life like in space?

Next up, Renee thinks space exploration is a distraction from issues on Earth, such as climate change. She feels we should “find ways to help the world and basically making life easier down here before looking up to the heavens”. What would Samantha Cristoforetti say to her?

Next, A. wonders about the future of space exploration. Does Cristoforetti think the private sector will take the lead? Will governments increasingly use outer space for strategic and military purposes?

Finally, Zap sees space exploration as part of the competition between global superpowers, such as the US and China. Is he right? Or is space exploration an opportunity to bring humanity together? How would Samantha Cristoforetti respond?

What is the future of space exploration? Will it be lead by private companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic? Is there a risk that space is becomes “militarised”? Should we address terrestrial issues like climate change before we invest in space exploration? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: (cc) Flickr – NASA Johnson


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