What trajectory will our civilization follow as we move beyond our first tentative steps into space? Nick Nielsen returns to Centauri Dreams with thoughts on multi-generational projects and their roots in the fundamental worldview of their time. As the inspiring monuments of the European Middle Ages attest, a civilizational imperative can express itself through the grandest of symbols. Perhaps our culture is building toward travel to the stars as the greatest expression of its own values and capabilities. Is the starship the ultimate monument of a technological civilization? In addition to continuing work in his blogs Grand Strategy: The View from Oregon and Grand Strategy Annex, Nielsen heads Project Astrolabe for Icarus Interstellar, described within the essay.
by J. N. Nielsen
If interstellar flight proves to be possible, it will be possible only in the context of what Heath Rezabek has called an Interstellar Earth: civilization developed on Earth to the degree that it is capable of launching an interstellar initiative. This is Earth, our familiar home, transformed into Earth, sub specie universalis, beginning to integrate its indigenous, terrestrial civilization into its cosmological context.
Already life on Earth is thoroughly integral with its cosmological context, in so ...