“If The Earth Dies, We Must Be Able To Continue”

Ray Bradbury voices his frustrations about space travel and politics  in his 1996 Playboy interview:

Playboy: When you talk about the future, you tend to talk about space travel. Do you really think it’s in our future?

Ray Bradbury: It must be. First of all, it’s a religious endeavor to be immortal. If the earth dies, we must be able to continue. Space travel will give us other planets to live on so we can continue to have children. It’s that simple, that great and that exciting.

Playboy: Will we really be forced to escape earth? Will we be able to in time?

Ray Bradbury: We are already on our way. We should back on the moon right now. And we should be going off to Mars immediately.

Playboy: Yet there doesn’t seem to be a rush into space anymore. NASA’s budget is being whittled away as we speak.

Ray Bradbury: How come we’re looking at our shoes instead of at the great nebula in Orion? Where did we mislay the moon and back off from Mars? The problem is, of course, our politicians, men who have no romance in their hearts or dreams in their heads. JFK, for a brief moment in his last year, challenged us to go to the moon. But even he wasn’t motivated by astronomical love. He cried, “Watch my dust!” to the Russians, and we were off. But once we reached the moon, the romance started to fade. Without that, dreams don’t last. That’s no surprise – material rewards do last, so the history of exploration on earth is about harvesting rich lodes. If NASA’s budgeters could be convinced that there are riches on Mars, we would explode overnight to stand on the rim of the Martian abyss. We need space for reasons we have not as yet discovered, and I don’t mean Tupperware.

Playboy: Tupperware?

Ray Bradbury: NASA feels it has to justify everything it does in practical terms.
And Tupperware was one of the many practical products that came out of space travel. NASA feels it has got to flimflam you to get you to spend money on space. That’s b.s. We don’t need that. Space travel is life-enhancing, and anything that’s life-enhancing is worth doing. It makes you want to live forever.”