Fly Me to the Moon

Our Culture’s Fascination with Space Exploration

By Annahita Esmaeili

Space exploration has and always will be a topic of discussion in the media. From television shows to movies, we see it everywhere. The Big Bang Theory had one of their characters, Howard Wolowitz, travel to space. Star Trek, I Dream of Jeannie, Star Wars, Gravity, the recent Guardians of the Galaxy and many more have also explored the idea of what to and not to expect of space. Movie directors and authors are always looking for the next big thing. These films and texts are a representation of our cultural fascination with space. After all, space is still largely unknown to us.

Authors and directors use space to feed into their creativity. What will happen in the future? Is this really what space looks like? What would happen if we could live on space?

Go back to 1999. Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, a Disney Channel original movie, showed audiences a world where people lived in space, but Earth was still around. They had shuttle buses that took them from their space homes down to Earth. Films such as Zenon and Gravity may make certain individuals hesitant about traveling to space. But I do not believe it will cause a loss in appeal to space exploration.

Movies and television shows act as a platform of what may happen in the future, or what directors and writers may believe will happen in the future. Authors and directors bring real-life scenarios into their work. After all, we have always been told that all stories have some truth to them. However, creativity becomes key. The more authors and directors come up with stories involving space travel, the more influence there is to do more research on space. Greater research could lead to many possibilities.

What if the government was already working on a way to have individuals live in space? According to Jonathan O’Callaghan of the Daily Mail, “large asteroids hit Mars in the past, [which] possibly creat[ed] conditions where life could survive.” If some sort of life can be found on Mars, then why not the rest of the planets? What if scientists come up with a solution that could help create living conditions up in space? If everyone will want to move, we’ll soon need traffic patrol up there.

There is the concept of design fiction in which “imaginative works [are] commissioned by tech companies to model new ideas,” writes Eileen Gunn for the Smithsonian Magazine. Novelist Cory Doctorow likes this idea of design fiction or prototyping fiction. “There is nothing weird about a company doing this – commissioning a story about people using a technology to decide if it’s worth following through on,” Doctorow says for Smithsonian. This leads to my belief that movies and novels about space travel will help push us into new inventions for space; the more we dig, the more information is pulled out.

Science fiction can help advance the science of the future. As authors and directors create new innovations and ideas that they believe could happen in the near-future, society may want to make it a reality. Therefore, professional individuals will strive to turn fiction into reality. This can only mean good things for the future. However, it can also take a terrible turn. If the future advances faster than it is ready for, then many of the horrible things that we have seen in science-fiction may come true.

The world is growing; we need to advance at the right speed. Science fiction can help move-along research and exploration of the science of the future.

Show more