The purpose of the Human Space Program, in my mind, is to lay out a strategy for exploring and developing the solar system that is consistent with the underlying principles of the Cosma Hypothesis. By that, I mean that we embrace the philosophy that we need to think of space exploration not only in terms of what it will do for humanity but also what it will offer to the universe.
The Cosma Hypothesis stands on the shoulders of the Gaia Hypothesis, which was originally developed by James Lovelock. He advanced the concept that life is not simply "along for the ride on Earth" but that living systems are an integral part of the planet.
Put more precisely, Wikipedia says the following:
The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis)
To take it a bit further, we can say that the Earth is alive, conscious, and intelligent because life, consciousness, and intelligence are all part of the Earth system through Homo sapiens and other sentient beings. (Combining the terms consciousness and intelligence, I use the term "contelligence." All of these elements exist within the universe as well because they exist on Earth. What we do not know is where these elements exist beyond our home planet.
Therefore, determining where life and contelligence exist is a central feature of the Human Space Program.
(To be continued)
The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution is available at aiaa.org and www.amazon.com
(c) Copyright, 2016, Frank White, All Rights Reserved