Inner Space vs. Outer Space

The world is running out of room.  The Earth’s population has tripled in only 100 years. Livable land is almost maxed out. Some say we can grow more food and find extra room to live in outer space. Maybe even move to Mars. But is space really the answer? Oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard thinks it’s our own planet … not the next galaxy.  He pits himself against the powerful advocates of manned space flight, including Buzz Aldrin. He seeks out practical solutions that he says are the beginnings of a new era of ocean living and farming. Should humanity be reaching up… or should we be pushing down?  Ballard thinks our very survival may rest in making the right choice, and explores this question in the fifth hour Alien Deep: Inner Space vs. Outer Space, Monday at 10P. 

By Kirk Wolfinger, Director

Making television is a team effort.  The show that viewers see on their televisions is the product of dozens of diverse talents.  While I may hold the title of “Director”, and will have a great deal of influence over the final product, it will truly be a collaborative effort.  In that spirit, perhaps no relationship is more important to my job than the one I share with Series Producer Gary Johnstone.  And I was just reminded of this fact with the conception of the series’ final episode.

Until recently, the working title for Hour 5 was “Man and the Sea”, and was intended to be an examination of the human relationship with the ocean.  Dr. Ballard frequently quotes John F. Kennedy, who said “We are tied to the ocean.  And when we go back to the sea… we are going back from whence we came”.  So we were comfortable in knowing that we had a concept that matched his personal philosophy.

But just last week Gary had a flash of inspiration.  I suspect its origins were a conversation with Dr. Ballard, but the idea is a simple dialectic: space versus oceans.  Which is ultimately more important for the human race to explore… and master?  Can we do both, or must we choose one?

From a personal standpoint, I was happy to hear of the new direction because I’ve done films on both topics.  I’ve interviewed astronauts who walked the moon, and dived two miles into the ocean to the wreck of Titanic.  On a documentary shoot, we tend to spend a great deal of time with our subjects: hours of telephone conversations, traveling to and from locations, sharing meals.  I’ve come to know and respect the explorers, researchers and scientists working in both fields, and recognize the passion they hold for their subjects.

Dr. Ballard clearly has a passion for ocean exploration.  Combine that with an insatiable curiosity, and you have someone whose excitement becomes infectious.  This can be easily seen onboard his ship EV Nautilus when ROV operations are underway: everyone gets caught up in his thrill of the hunt.

The challenge to me now is to find somebody – or somebodies – who is just as passionate for Space.  Who can match Ballard’s energy, and provide a compelling argument for the stars? Perhaps one of the modern Shuttle pilots?  Buzz Aldrin?

I suddenly have a new challenge…

 Tune in the final hour of Alien Deep: Inner vs. outer Space Monday at 10P


  1. Mark Tohulka
    Miami, FL
    September 17, 2012, 7:44 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Ballard. Case in point: One Space Shuttle Mission’s cost (now being transferred to a new vehicle) would run the Aquarius Undersea Laboratory for perhaps 500 years. Yet the Aquarius, the world’s last operating undersea habitat devoted to research, has had it’s measly $3 million budget cut in the name of the economy, and risks being scrapped. Set space aside for a moment, and learn about the oceans! It might just save our lives.

  2. Tom Pollack
    Newport Beach, California
    September 18, 2012, 3:29 am


    No astronaut can match Dr. Ballad’s energy and experience because none of them, Buzz included, have been actively exploring outer space for 50 years. Exploration of space and the ocean are both compelling, it’s just a matter of return on investment. I heard The US Government is spending $1500-1$ on space exploration budgets vs our ocean exploration budgets. This is crazy compared to the immediate payoff of exploring our Ocean.