“Although … military fields frequently responds to the stimulus of war needs (78), and various’disasters have effectively focused attention upon the need for devices to prevent the recurrence of such accidents (79), it is equally true that a multitude of human ” needs” have gone unsatisfied throughout the ages. …
[W]here an observer from a culture which has an established tradition of attempts to improve material welfare and to control nature may often detect a need in another society, that need may not exist for the members of the society under observation, precisely because of a difference in values and aims.
-Robert K. Merton “Science, Technology, and Society in Seventeenth Century England” (1938)
So, pessimistically, we’re only going to colonize space if 1) It’s the only way to beat the Commies, 2) The earth becomes a wasteland, or 3) Some unforeseen and radical shift in our culture makes it happen?