The Indulgence of Space Travel

Space travel should be encouraged. If humanity continues to expand its numbers at the present rate of increase, unchecked by plague pestilence and war, it is likely that humanity will need for find a second home, somewhere in the universe, or become extinct. Colonising other worlds is our only option for our species, if you take the long term view. If you take the longest term view our sun will die and our life on our planet will become untenable. It is right that we should devote some of our resources to space travel and exploration. 

In 1968 I watched on television, somewhere in Ontario, in the home of a person whose name I cannot remember, a shadowy screen showing a man walking a few paces on the surface of the moon. I think those of us who watched it expected this to be the start of a brave new experiment in space travel. In fact today, years on, it seems like the end of the experiment, not the start of one.

Today space travel is no longer exploration. You can book a ride on a space ship, which will take you into space (not very far from the earth admittedly, but into space. You need to have $100,000 for your fare. You will travel, but you will not going anywhere- just up into space and down again. Space travel has become a pastime for wealthy people.

It seems that one wealthy celebrity, who is known as a campaigner against world poverty, has decided that $100,000 is money well spent on a space excursion. Mr Robert Geldof will be making the trip, although how it fits in to his campaigning against world poverty, I do not quite understand. Perhaps he feels he needs to be free of the cares and worries that he feels about world poverty and that outer space is the place to be free.

Meanwhile back on planet earth, millions still lack sufficient to live healthy lives. A space excursion will not help them, neither will it help humanity. But humanity is fond of self indulgence.  The wealthy few have always found solutions for the poor many which do not involve the wealthy few suffering in the way that the poor suffer, and which do not impact or affect the lifestyles that the wealthy few feel entitled to live.

 

2 Responses

  1. A trip into space will give you some serious perspective!

  2. Robert, you should check out http://www.space.com/video and click on ‘NewSpace: The Orbital Industrial Revolution’ in the left sidebar – it’s an eye-opener, if not a testament to the intentions of wealthy megalomaniacal people.

    It’s all being tipped in to the hands of corporations, but not without Public subsidies via NASA.

    I found it quite disturbing watching promo videos advertising aero-space services and blatant public relations hype crafting a rose-tinted rationale for polluting near-Earth space for all manner of ideas.

    One thing I came away with: Branson’s Virgin Galaxy (plus others’) venture is more about parcel delivery than human tourism, IMHO. Yeah, I’m sure they’ll be an income stream (and publicity) providing brief human bungee jumps in to sub-orbital space but delivering parts to all these planned ideas is where the money’s at (with less human risk).

    Next year the first solar sail is scheduled to launch: a huge sail will unfurl in space, replete with adverts. It will eventually sail to the sun; my guess is not before a “tour” of the planet. We’ll see (literally probably!).

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