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Sometimes a rocket is just a rocket… December 10, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

…one hopes. But this piece in the Guardian points to how for a number of billionaires some space project or another is now almost the ‘have to have’ accessory these days.

That all this comes wrapped up in a certain rhetoric is a given. For Elon Musk, as the article notes:

“One [path] is that we stay on Earth forever and then there will be an inevitable extinction event,” he told the audience of scientists and engineers. “The alternative is to become a spacefaring civilization, and a multi-planetary species.”

I don’t think that’s entirely incorrect, but I’m unconvinced that it has to be, or can be, accomplished at this historical moment. But where’s the surprise, as the article also notes:

Ashlee Vance, longtime tech journalist and author of Elon Musk: Tesla, Space, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, thinks these ambitions are driven by a mix of entrepreneurial curiosity, altruism and a dash of egotism. “The guys who are rulers of the universe now are the nerds,” he says. “They were all geeks raised on science fiction and the vision of space we had in the 1960s and 70s. Now they have the money to make this a reality.”

Jeff Bezos has his programme, Microsoft’s Paul Allen and Richard Branson are in cahoots on another. And so on. But when put like that one can see it as generational. It’s as if the CLR had a side effort as a space programme. Some of us here are the same generation as Bezos and Musk, or near enough – i.e. middle-aged.

Is that it? Is it that simple? I’m not unconvinced. Many were bitten by the space bug in those decades, and that it inflected their thinking subsequently. What do others think? And does it have any meaning beyond being an interesting historical after-effect of the original space programmes?


1. EWI - December 10, 2016

You know all that sci-fi of recent decades about future dystopias where rich individuals won the space race and now rule like gods, beyond the rule of law? Most see it as a warning, but these see it as the template.


WorldbyStorm - December 10, 2016

Is true. Have you read Ken MacLeod’s latest? A cautionary warning with some aspects of what you reference too.


EWI - December 11, 2016

I hadn’t (I’ve been giving my spare time to ‘The Expanse’ recently), but I’ll put it on the wishlist!

I don’t for a moment believe that a sociopath like Bezos is doing this for altruism.


2. CL - December 10, 2016

Elon Musk has ” built those companies with the help of billions in government subsidies”

‘there is no Planet B.
Earth is our only home.’-Kim Stanley Robinson


3. makedoanmend - December 11, 2016

The Number of people we actually put into space is in (more or less) a steep decline since the mid 90s (bar 2009!), and the space station (where people go) is to close shop c. 2020.

Graph depicting humans into orbit over time on:


(I’m not 100% with this the site’s outlook, but the writer is a scientist/professor with decades of experience who helped author the Club of Rome report in the 1970s and he used actual data with tried and trusted statistical methods.)


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