Space is an ocean—and I'm not speaking metaphorically. Ocean defines both "the entire body of salt water that covers approximately 72% of earth's surface," and any "great expanse."
Early civilizations believed that the ocean and the stars above were linked inextricably. In the age of exploration, the ocean represented the ultimate unknown whose guideposts were the heavens. Earlier in this century, science fiction writers—our prophets of the medium—referred to the cosmos as "ocean space," whose conquest would inevitably be done by "space ships." Gene Roddenberry, creator of the television series "Star Trek," was right on the money when he made the Starship Enterprise a naval vessel.
For Americans about to enter the next millennium, the coming age of space will be an era of exploitation as well as exploration, and the nation requires a philosophical approach to the use, exploration, and—if need be—defense of space that is best suited for the ocean-like cosmic environment. That philosophy is inherently naval in tone and tradition.