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In a sci-fi world where a planet has developed short space travels between the planet and its moons, what would be a good reason for the current form of government to not only disencourage, but straight up forbid long explorative voyages to other planets?

The long-term travel system would've existed before, but it has been so much time since these travels were attempted that any contact to other civilizations would've been lost and forgotten by the majorities. Any attempt to leave the planetary rim would be botched by the government, with the perpetrators either arrested or killed in the process.

I was considering maybe a war with alien species could've caused this particular part of the universe to be exiled for the rest, but considering nobody even knows that long-term travels can be executed, maybe there could be another more dubious reason why people are left in the dark about this.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you want the reason and public explanation to be the same, or the government can keep secrets from the public? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 5 '17 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ it can, and would be best if it did $\endgroup$ – Hizome Sep 5 '17 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Hizome In the future you may want to hold of on accepting an answer for a while. In some cases you may get another answer that better answers your question. Accepting an answer early may limit future answers as users can view the question as resolved. $\endgroup$ – Braydon Sep 5 '17 at 20:53
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The government could view such voyages to be a waste of resources and, were such voyages to be encouraged, a continuing loss of skills, especially amongst those most likely to participate.

However, depending upon the government, and other factors, there could be a fear of a mass exodus.

Perhaps the fear is not of voyages going out, but of coming back with news that the government does not want to become public, for some reason?

A possible reason: Out there, on other planets is an alien race who are actually controlling the government and in the process of preparing the population for something rather unpleasant - maybe as hosts for a parasitic lifeform, sacrifices to a god, or food.

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Look at this example of the Ming Dynasty over on Stack Exchange's History forum.

It gives several reasons why the Ming Dynasty did exactly what you are proposing.

Here are some of the reasons given:

  • They pretty much had all they needed resource-wise in the country, trade was not a prerogative and even though Zheng He did go out exploring they were not interested in colonies or mercantilism.

  • Mercantilism was pretty much frowned upon within the Confucian system, merchants did not produce goods they moved them around and made money which made them a drain on the system. The few who were enterprising and maybe came up with some new product might often find themselves in competition from the government

  • The Emperor system considered itself the center of the world, the focus of the heavens. When outsiders came they gave tribute and fealty to the Emperor, so the outside world came to them, they did not need to go out

  • Belief that China was "perfect" and had everything necessary was reinforced by Confucian notions of harmony and society. Signs of political and military weakness that appeared near the end of the last dynasty were ignored by the emperors and those in the court.

It could be any or all of those reasons.

Other reasons:

  • A big bad exists out there (or the fear that one might) and poking that hornets nest would end civilization.
  • A more highly advanced civilization had a quiet talk with your leaders and convinced them that, while they really don't want to exterminate humanity, if you cross this line before you grow up, we will snuff you.
  • The rich (who are in control) don't want other groups finding riches out there and competing with them.
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The renegades

Once upon a time a bunch of explorers colonized a far planet. Instead of being patriotic to their mother planet the continued absence of propaganda indoctrination positive thinking led to normal pathological behavior, thinking that they can be independent of their mother planet.

So the mother planet started an invasion fleet rescue mission to get the planet back in line. The colonists decided to fight. With the new resources of the planet and the experienced mental freedom the colonists were able to launch a nearly successful surprising counteroffensive and they were even able to convince some ships of the mother planet to turn their alliance (shudder).

So the home planet has been burned by the experience and for this reason they do not allow anyone to move outside their control again. The betrayal of other ships makes the home planet pathological suspicious of any contact, so they decided to leave the ressources of the new planet alone.

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Religion

There is an ancient holy scripture which is the base of their whole society. It clearly says that the planet and its moons are given to them by their almighty deities, but wandering beyond is a grave sin which will bring terrible damnation to them all. The scriptures were written in an ancient age where they had barely developed metalworking and not the slightest idea of astronomy, but if the holy scriptures were that specific, it must be important.

The government is a theocracy. They take the holy scripture very seriously. Because if people start to disrespect the part which forbids interplanetary travel, they might start disrespecting the part which says that the divine rule of the high priests must not be questioned.

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  • $\begingroup$ If God had meant for people to go to other planets we would have been born with reactionless drives. $\endgroup$ – user25818 Sep 5 '17 at 19:18
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Purported contamination of outer bodies would be the best explanation. Suppose, long time ago some visiting aliens, or this race's own government left a highly dangerous lifeforms (aka the Alien) on other planets of the system. Paying visits there can endanger the whole civilization. And this can be the real reason too, so government can exploit those lifeforms in secret.

Saying that long range space travel is danger in itself probably won't explain the harshness of punishment.

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Distance

The group of stars that surround us are at 900 light years of distance from us, with the actual tech available we couldn't find any available planet that could sustain life or any type of self suficient colony.

Even with this restrictions people keep trying; sending to that hellish abysm of nothingness not only our best ships, but our brightest minds too.

This suicide trend took his toll into the billions of our younglings, dreaming in adventures and riches.

The High Counsil almost 3000 years ago in all his wisdom created the "Pierced Veil Law" forbiding any attempt to reach the stars forever.

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