I think our space programme is one of our species’ greatest achievements. It does have a sordid past, though, with roots in war, conflict, aggression, violence, paranoia, and narrow-minded parochial/tribal brutality. Which makes it all the more remarkable that I think it unites us as a species now, when it was born of such acrimonious and savage division. But probably one of the greatest crimes of the early days our species’ space programmes is the death of Laika.
I am always resistant to imparting any exceptionalism to our species, considering it some sort of narrow-minded parochialism based on the accident of the restricted perspective we have when we try to place ourselves in context with the rest of nature. But every time I look at at the achievements of our space programmes, I find it hard not take pride in our species’ achievements in this domain (whatever else the horrible things we do): this is truly where our reach exceeds our grasp, but again and again and again we step up to the challenge and make our grasp meet our reach.