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Antarctica, the Moon and beyond with Daniel Fox.

Explore the importance of why humans need to connect and feel places once only reachable through the sheer endurance of suffering with Daniel Fox.



Deep Space


With the mainstream media focusing on why we shouldn’t go to Antarctica, why we should not go to the Moon and why we should not venture beyond Earth, Daniel Fox takes us through the compelling case of why we should connect and feel places that were once only reachable through sheer endurance and suffering.

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[MUSIC] Welcome to T-Minus Deep Space from N2K Networks.

I'm Maria Varmazes, host of the T-Minus Space Daily podcast.

And Deep Space includes extended interviews and bonus content for a deeper look into some of the topics that we cover on our daily program.

[MUSIC] For today's show, I'm speaking with Daniel Fox.

And Daniel Fox is an author, photographer, and an explorer.

He is a major space advocate, believing that it is nature's goal for humanity to venture into space.

With much mainstream commentary often focusing on why we shouldn't go to the moon and why we should not venture beyond Earth, Daniel Fox has a very different point of view.

He takes us through his compelling case of why we should connect with and make it easier to experience remote places that were once only reachable to the rare brave few through sheer endurance and suffering.

Places like Antarctica, the moon, and one day Mars and beyond.

[MUSIC] >> I'm Daniel Fox.

I'm the founder of Future Space and the author of Theo the Wild, which is my book that came out in 2019.

For 15 years, I did solo wilderness expeditions where I did photography and wrote stories about the human journey, but using nature.

But now I do that with space, connecting nature to space, the human journey, the human story of us on the planet and going beyond.

>> That's great.

Well, thank you for joining me today, Daniel.

And there's a lot of activity going on right now.

You've been on a lot of adventures in your life.

It feels almost weird to be like, what's your next one?

But you've got another one coming up soon.

Tell me about that.

>> Yes, so on December of this year, we're going to Antarctica on a kind of, I mean, luxurious exploration vessel.

And we're bringing along William Shatner, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.

And then we're going to have some other big names.

There are a lot of things for this voyage, but one of them is really to promote going to these places with a conscious and aware mind.

Because there's a narrative that it's out there about not going to the moon, not going to space, not going to Antarctica.

And trying to preserve as if to put them into a bubble and thinking that they exist better in a bubble.

And we want to promote the other way.

We want to promote the human experience of physicality of what it does to go to these places in a mindful way.

So that we can learn, the world is made to be experienced and we need to remind ourselves that we can do it in a mindful way.

>> Yeah, I would love to hear you expand on that a bit.

It's the folks that you're going with also.

>> Two fascinating ambassadors for space right there.

And I think that's a really smart intentional choice to be making, especially when many times when I speak to people outside of the space bubble.

There's a lot of cynicism about who is at the forefront of that conversation and what their motivations are.

So I think it's fascinating that you have folks that are very well respected and loved at the forefront of this journey.

And I would just love to hear about the connection to Antarctica and also who you're going with and why.

Because I think that's so fascinating.

>> Going to these places is really important because the hindsight and the perspective is only done once you go over there.

I mean, your Shatner got when he went to space, that perspective, that physicality cannot be replicated if you're just staying home.

So being able, if you think about going to Antarctica, it was open till very recently.

It was only hardcore research and limited to a small number of people who really want to push the boundaries.

And now it's getting easier and more affordable.

It's still an expensive experience and you need to be committed.

But more and more people are able to connect to the remoteness.

And if it's put with the right frame and the right structure, the right context, it becomes a life changing environment.

Experience and where you can come back and you can share with your family.

You can say, okay, now I understand how things are connected.

Because we're a physical species, we need to experience things.

We don't do well with concept and I think that right now we rely too much on these concepts for people to change and it doesn't work.

So once you go over there and you get to experience the landscape, you get to experience these animals and you get to experience all of this within a structure that reminds you of the responsibility and the connectedness of everything.

It cannot but just be really powerful agent of change and the moon is the same thing.

And to your point about this being only to the ones who can afford it or two billionaires.

Unfortunately, the curve of technology has always been the same.

Right now you and I were talking on computers.

Computers were only to the rich who could afford it back and back in those days, the same thing with the cell phones.

And now it's ubiquitous, everyone can have it.

So space, these travel destinations are often offered or available to the people that can afford it until it becomes available to the masses.

So you're gonna have the same kind of adaptation timeline.

>> Absolutely, I mean even in my lifetime just vacationing abroad for many people has gone from a once in a lifetime thing to multiple times a year for some folks.

I mean it's changed a lot.

And you mentioned something very interesting about sort of, I'm used the word stewardship since it's the only word that comes to mind.

About the attitudes we take with us when we go to these places, like Antarctica or one day the moon.

When people go with a certain mindset of taking care of these spaces in a responsible way versus just pure exploitation.

I'm just curious about your thoughts on that because you wrote this amazing piece that I really loved and we'll make sure to link it in the show notes.

But you get into some detail about that and I wanted to just sort of hear your thoughts on that.

>> Life is constantly moving forward, right?

It's like having children and having a family and always thinking that the children are going to stay home and never go anywhere.

They are meant to go beyond you.

That's why we have children so that they can continue our legacy.

And every single generation is going to try to do better than a generation before.

But they need to go out and experience and they will do their own mistakes, right?

But if you can give them the skills to move forward and to create their new life with the correct values, this is why our society has been improving and we're not stuck in 1920s with the hammer and ore.

I think we've forgotten that we take things for granted, but our society has been evolving because we're constantly trying to do things better.

And then we move forward.

So going to these places, you make a reference on the article that I wrote and in that article I talk about maybe the most powerful insight we've ever had.

Is from Carl Sagan when we look in the pale blue dot.

But this is what it does.

When you go beyond, you've lived in a little village and then finally you climb up to the mountain and you look back and you start to see, okay now I get it, right?

Different perspective, we talk about the overview effect.

Seeing the earth in context of space.

That is what moving forward, going beyond does.

But we have the capacity, because this is what we do, we have the capacity to always try to do better, to do it in a mindful way.

If we prevent people to do it, then we prevent the opportunity for us to try to do the right way.

And the status quo, it's always gonna be easy for the status quo to point fingers because you stay behind and you don't get your feet wet.

But then you prevent learning and creating the opportunity to do the right thing.

So then it breaks because ultimately you cannot prevent life from moving.

And if you don't lead, you give the opportunity for others to come and take that lead and then they might not do it in the way that you want to have it done.

So that's why we have to go to the moon.

That's why we have to lead and go to Antarctica so that we can shape the narrative according to the values that we want.

Because if we don't, then it might not be that future that we envision.

>> I think that that's a very compelling case there.

And I found myself nodding a lot as I was reading it, because it makes a lot of sense to me.

I have never been to Antarctica, but I know you have been many times.

And on this return that you are making later this year, I'm so curious what you hope the other travelers on this journey will take away from when they go and see this incredible place.

>> Just how everything is connected, right?

The physicality of these places, the landscape, the mountains, the ice.

Obviously there's crossing the Drake Passage, which is becoming more manageable because we can work faster and then we have ships that can handle better.

But visiting these places when you have people that reminds you of, understand that 100 years ago, Shackleton was in a set tall sales ship at the mercy of the elements and now we're able to do it and we'd have the internet.

But for people to experience nature, ultimately, it's what we have on Earth.

We get to see the penguins and their natural elements.

This is not a zoo, this is not, we have a team of experts, an expedition team that have spent 10, 15, 30 years learning about their craft, whether they're a geologist or environmentalist or a penguin expert.

And they're there to share with us their knowledge.

So when you go to an experience in Antarctica in that way, it is having not only the visual, the connection, the excitement, but you get to do it while learning and being educated by people that are extremely passionate about their work.

And then you get to share it.

You get to tell that story to other people and you get to tell them, okay, this is why it matters because we're connected, because I've been there, because I've experienced it, and I want to live in a world where this is available.

This is one of the things like in the US that we forget.

We have this country that we love because people before have understood how to protect it and how to leave room to these places that we can go and enjoy.

And they came from controversial people.

Teddy Roosevelt was a hunter, and but he's the one responsible for a lot of the conservation.

So we need to experience these places, whether now it's Antarctica or whether it's Arctic, we need to encourage exploring even if it's remote, because we need people to understand and we need to give it the proper care to manage that expansion.

It's like saying, let's close out the Galapagos because it's rich in biodiversity.

No, it's there, you need people and how many people have gone over there and said this is amazing, right?

This is amazing.

So that's what we need to do.

>> We'll be right back after this quick break.

As I'm listening to you saying all these things and it makes a lot of sense, I wonder what can we take from that as humanity explores and leaves the cradle.

If we establish a more permanent presence on the moon or maybe Mars one day, what can we take from these lessons that we learn exploring these corners of the earth that are still very remote in places where there is no, as far as we know, biodiversity at all?

What would that look like?

How would we be responsible for these places?

And I have so many questions on that one and I don't know the answers.

I'm just curious your thoughts.

>> But it's trusting that in all these places that we go, we're gonna do our best to do it better than the ways that we did in the past.

And I don't want to judge the past in the ways that they did it bad.

They did it in the best way that they could considering the culture back in those days, the technology that they had, the knowledge that they had.

Right now, no one behind us woke up in the morning and said, I'm gonna do things in a bad way just because it's so.

They all did it within a framework and that was available back in those days.

In the same way that right now we tried to do things within the framework.

And if we judge the past the way that we judge the past, then we have to accept that we're gonna be judged by the future in the same way.

And so as we go to space, right now there's a lot of conversation about low orbit, about not trashing the orbit.

Those are not the conversations that we had back in the days.

We're having these conversations.

There's a lot of people involved talking about the legislative aspect of the moon, how complicated.

These conversations are already happening before we're going over there.

These kind of conversations were not happening in Europe before the migration to North America.

It was a total different conversation.

So giving ourself credits, we always talk about the human species in a negative, "Oh, we're gonna go and trash the rest of them the same way that we've trashed."

No, we're not.

Life is complicated.

Life is messy.

Everybody wants change, but nobody wants the consequences of change.

We talk about a lot about nobody wants child labor, but nobody wants to pay the real price for a lot of things.

We all want the convenience of life.

So things are messy.

But we have to give ourselves the credit, the belief that, given the incentive, we try to do the right thing.

As we go to the moon, as we go to the Mars, as we go into space, everybody is gonna try to do it better than, you know, or...

Because now we understand the connectedness, how things are connected together, how the consequences can impact others.

We understand those things.

And we also understand how teamwork is necessary, and nobody wants to go back and have a war of territories and space.

When I do mentorship, one of the things that I always tell the people that I work with, I cannot prevent life from happening for you.

Like we're at the beginning on this river.

I can tell you that the river is gonna be...

There's gonna be some rapids, there's gonna be some lakes, there's gonna be a bunch of things.

But I cannot predict what is gonna happen to you.

But what I can do is I can give you the skills to negotiate everything in front of you that's gonna happen to you.

And the skills to make sure that at every step, you will find the opportunities to become better, to learn, you know, to grow as an individual.

And that is the thing that we have to bring back into our own society, is that whatever life is waiting for us, because also space is gonna be its own set of problems, its own sets of reality, we will make mistakes.

But collectively, we have the capacity to find a solution so that we can move better, we can continue and become better.

Because ultimately, like, you know, we circle back with our children.

Everybody, everybody, when they're parents and they have children, even if they make mistakes or even if they do things that ultimately their children will turn back and say, "Oh, you know, you didn't do a great job."

Everybody is trying to raise their children and give them their tools so that they can be better.

And sometimes it backfires.

And sometimes, you know, that good intention does not deliver the best results, but it's always done from a place of love and care.

And that is how we move forward.

Hmm, that's a really amazing metaphor.

That resonates with me personally, so as a parent, so I definitely appreciate that.

I wonder, given your advocacy and the many different types of audiences that you have spoken with, when you speak to an audience of primarily space people, people in the space bubble, I'm wondering if there's a call to action that you might have for them, especially given, I think there is a challenge within the space bubble, speaking to people who have that reaction, as you have mentioned, of why are we doing this, why are we bothering, we've messed it all up here.

Any advice or call to action for folks in the space world on how to communicate in that situation?

Yeah, I think both sides need humility.

From the space community, we have to understand where the adversity comes from.

The sense of abandonment is legitimate.

We go back to the family again.

When you have one of the kids, one of the siblings, who decides to leave the village and go from New York City to the big city, there is a sense of abandonment behind it.

"Oh, we're not good enough for you, you're going to go and call to the big city."

And then there's always a sense of, "Oh, they come back and then they look different, they speak different," or, "You're going to have these siblings down the line 40 years later," and they're like, "Well, you left us."

So that sense of abandonment is legitimate, and we need to address it.

And we cannot just say, "Oh, but the technology, everybody benefits."

For a lot of people, they don't make those connections.

For them, what resonates is that they have a reality, and that is a threat to their own reality, or it comes at the expense of their reality.

And so we have to understand where their worries are coming from so that we can address them.

If we pretend that there's no legitimacy to what they feel, then we dismiss them and then we don't develop the skills to address them.

This is one of the things that often we forget.

Like, even just, you know, we're all super surprised when we judge each other.

Well, we judge, I mean, we do.

Let's go beyond the denial aspect.

Like, everybody judges when we do everything.

So then we can develop the skills and we can teach people to go beyond those judges, and those judgments.

But if we don't address the elephant in the room, then everybody kind of doesn't move from there.

When it comes to space, there's a technology, there's the science, there's a continuation of life as we grow.

But now we're talking about, you know, the scale of it.

We're not just moving from one continent to another continent.

We're, you know, we're going beyond, you know, beyond the planet.

There is a legitimate sense of abandonment from people.

And it's the unknown and it's change.

And a lot of people are uncomfortable with that.

So finding the humility of these divisions, of these worries, so that they can be addressed.

And that's really for me, this is what I try to do as much as I can with the future space, is to go back to that thread that connects every single person on the planet.

And it's the human story.

That is what connects us all.

And if we can bring to that table the non-space community and the space community, so that everybody can understand that this will benefit.

And because we're all trying to do the same thing, right?

The place where we are right now, our society where we are, is nothing different than back in the 1900s, where you had Tesla, the Wright Brothers, and Edison.

We're trying to, you know, to create a world of tomorrow that very few actually understood.

They were like, who cares?

Who cares about light when they're, right?

Take over the sky, you know, lights.

I mean, like, this is not going to change someone who is hungry and starving.

But that world actually took care of a lot of the issues.

That world created a new, better world where everybody benefited.

And that is the same thing with space and moving beyond.

America represented a line of new opportunity.

And when it was created, I mean, if you go to the library, National Library in Washington, and you see the vision that America was built on, great, you know, a lot of mistakes.

But ultimately, America was created and elevated the rest of the world.

There's still a beacon of values.

And, you know, and now we look at it as we go to space.

That's what these new places offer.

The opportunity to create something that can elevate everybody else.

But the humility of understanding that this can represent also a sense of abandonment, a threat to what they have in all reality.

I really appreciate what you're saying.

And I find it extremely moving that you're tying it into the, that you're bringing in the humanity that is often left out of the conversation when we talk about space.

Because I get geeky, I like to talk about tech, but we are people.

It is a story about people ultimately, people doing things and relating to each other person to person is really, there's so much wisdom in what you said.

I just wanted to say how much I appreciated that because it makes a lot of sense to me.

This has been a really delightful conversation.

I have really enjoyed hearing your thoughts.

Is there anything you wanted to leave the audience with before we conclude?

I like to have my guests have the last word.

So anything you wanted to leave folks with.

Just don't be too hard on yourselves.

Like don't, I hear so much anxiety and so much negativity about who we are as a species.

And I like, no, stop, like change that perspective.

We're not a bad species.

We're actually an amazing species.

Like we figure things out that is what we do.

Well, you and I, we're not talking on the computer, thousands of miles separated because we're bad.

It's like, we're great.

Life is messy.

Life is a messy by design.

You can't, you cannot find innovations without making the mistakes.

And often, you know, these mistakes, two people will do exactly the same thing.

One will succeed.

The other one will, will, will fail.

But so there's no manual of instruction and life by itself is based on disruptions and tension, creation, destruction.

So let's give ourselves a little bit of credit.


We have some issues we have to tackle.

Everybody is on it.

We all have our own, you know, idea, but everybody, like even the people that we disagree with, they all trying to make a world of tomorrow that will protect their lives or put food on the table.

We all try, we all start from the same place.

So let's, let's give ourselves some, some credit, not dismiss what needs to be done, but understand that we have the capacity to shift the future.

And then we're not that bad.

Where nature is complicated.

Take a moment to kind of like change your perspective of the future.

That's it for T-minus Deep Space for February 17th, 2024.

We'd love to know what you think of this podcast.

You can email us at space@n2k.com or submit the survey in the show notes.

Your feedback ensures that we deliver the information that keeps you a step ahead in the rapidly changing space industry.

This episode was produced by Alice Carruth, mixing by Elliot Peltzman and Trey Hester with original music and sound design by Elliot Peltzman.

Our executive producer is Jen Iben.

Our VP is Brandon Karp and I'm Maria Varmazes.

Thanks so much for listening.

We'll see you next time.



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