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[HIT Forum] 'We should explore space together in peace'
Sasha Sagan, daughter of Carl Sagan, and Yi Soyeon, S. Korea’s only astronaut, underline importance of humanity’s responsibility in space explorationBy Kan Hyeong-woo
Published : Oct. 11, 2023 - 16:10
As humanity goes deeper into space and explores more of the unknown, it is crucial to take responsibility to carry out space missions with peace and solidarity, say Sasha Sagan, daughter of renowned astronomer Carl Sagan, and Yi Soyeon, South Korea's one and only astronaut.
“Our track record as a species is questionable at best and especially when we arrive in new places,” said Sagan.
“I think that our only hope is to really take the lessons of where we have fallen short in the past over the course of human history. I hope we can prevent ourselves from repeating our flaws in this new (space) adventure we have ahead of us.”
Yi emphasized that the world must work together in terms of space exploration instead of battling for hegemony.
“We should think about how we can preserve peace and how we can collaborate with each other rather than fight against each other and how we can make benefits to the whole of humanity,” she said.
Taking part in a panel discussion at The 2023 Korea Herald Humanity In Tech forum at the Shilla Seoul on Wednesday, Sagan and Yi also talked about how the space sector should not only be open to engineers and researchers.
“As a matter of fact, we don’t have to be good at soccer to go to soccer matches and we don’t have to be good at baseball to become baseball fans,” said Yi.
“There is a bias that one must be good at math and science to be able to like space, I used to be surrounded by that bias," she said.
"But I want everyone to have confidence in that anyone can like space. Personally, I hope people who are in different fields from the space sector take more interest in space so that there will be more (space) books and movies.”
Sagan, whose late father wrote the bestseller "Cosmos," said the reason the science book on the universe published in 1980 is still popular to this day is that it aimed to bring space closer to the general public.
“So much of what (my parents) created is this idea that science should be accessible to everyone, people who are nonscientists, people who may never even have thought about being all that interested in science before. And 'Cosmos' is so accessible to anyone of any age and there is so much joy and wonder in it,” she said.
Asked about how humanity can bear the feeling of smallness in this vast universe, Sagan pointed out that it is important to look at the brightness of life.
“Right now, we are together in this moment and the connection that we make with one another, whether it's family or kinship for the best friend, that connection, that feeling of wholeness that we can feel from enormity,” she said.
“I think that’s what makes us OK. That we are so small, being in this big universe and being here for a short time in the blink of an eye.”
In regard to the biggest lesson that she learned from her space flight, Yi underscored how precious each and every life is and that everyone should be grateful for what is given.
“Because we go 400 kilometers above (the ground) and we struggle every day fighting for life against death ... we should know how grateful the life we have is and we should recognize it every day," she said.
"We need to have a deep appreciation about how valuable life that we have is. And we should always think about how we can share something we got for free with other people.”
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