I really hate scifi-space-exploration culture, like, to a ridiculous extent, and it’s fun to read other people’s takes on it.

…for grounding one’s narratives. In his 2010 paper for the Journal of Cosmology, The Problem of Human Missions to Mars, Dr. Michael F. Robinson highlighted that historical analogies brought to the field of exploration, noting that “when we peel away the ancillary arguments for human spaceflight (e.g. benefits to spinoff technology, employment, or national soft power) we find that core arguments rely heavily upon the use of historical analogies,” and that those associations rely on certain assumptions—that humans have always been explorers, citing examples of how our ancestors have migrated across the world throughout history. But there’s little evidence to support that line of argument, Robinson argues. “The lesson from history appears to show the reverse: that humans have sought out an increasingly settled lifestyle based upon agriculture and industry, foregoing the risks of nomadic travel.” Furthermore, the explorations out of Europe and Asia throughout the global age of exploration weren’t undertaken in the name of romantic discovery: they were for the purpose of commerce, either by discovering new riches to exploit, or by marking out more efficient paths upon which trade could flow. Indeed, even our expeditions into orbit and to the Moon weren’t initially shouldered out of the goal of scientific knowledge: they were demonstrations of American (and Soviet) technological prowess in the midst of a long-term, global arms race. Robinson spoke at a conference …

Demonstrations of technological prowess with intriguing political focus: not demonstrations to the rest of the world exactly, but also to the domestic populace who needed to have those aerospace expenditures romanticized to be justified…

…f a long-term, global arms race. Robinson spoke at a conference a decade ago where he noted that the exploration of Antarctica is a more relevant analog for trying to accurately anticipate extraterrestrial exploration. A trip into the American west was something relatively easy for someone to take on: they could count on being able to find food and supplies on the way, and some sort of economic reward at the end. Expeditions to the South Pole are a far more costly endeavor, one that requires considerable planning, logistics, and supplies to survive in the harsh environment. The South Pole is the only place on Earth without an indigenous population, and is only home to people (anywhere from fifty to two hundred) in research facilities. Genre literature often plays a r…

You know, this is maybe a best counterargument to the “Planet B” mindset. Why would a Mars colony be a Thing when an Antarctic colony isn’t?

…n the realm of possibility, but settlers should first look not to the science fiction that influenced the men trying to bring us to those worlds, but to our own world’s polar regions, and ask themselves if they should try that first, instead.

This conclusion is backwards. It isn’t that “we should use our space-colony motivation to push us to explore Antarctica”. Understanding why “the frontier” was colonized and what the real motivations and costs were, and why that hasn’t applied to Antarctica is the way to start understanding why space colonization is a really, really, really stupid thing to spend resources on.