There are legitimate reasons to travel into outer space and visit other planets.
An astonishing 71 different countries have fledgling space programs.
Not all of them are high-end.
The Turkmenistan National Space Agency consists of a white-board and three rubber bands.
Only the USA, China, Russia, Europe, Japan and India have “full launch capabilities”, enabling them to send large objects into space.
Benefits of a space program include scientific research, weather monitoring, radiation detection, earth mapping and national self-esteem-building.
“Any country that can put a satellite in orbit also has the capability to drop a weapon anywhere on the Earth,” states History Headlines, which means if that if a country also has a nuclear weapon, “it can drop that nuke anywhere in the world.”
More than 100 countries have signed The Outer Space Treaty which prohibits placing weapons of mass destruction in space, and on the Moon and all other celestial bodies.
“This will ensure that America’s dominance in space is never questioned,” stated Trump, “because we know the best way to prevent conflict is to prepare for victory.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that “the development of the U.S. Space Force poses a threat to Russia”.
In 1961, when Russia launched the first successful human spaceflight, Vostok 1, it was inconceivable that any corporation or individual would have the technical know-how and financial muscle to build its own space program.
But since then, corporations and individuals have amassed large war chests. It’s not the like old days, when business titans controlled railroads, mining conglomerates or media empires.
Jeff Bezos – the richest dude on the planet – owns a website.
No hard assets to speak of.
Just a URL with sub-domains where you can click and buy shit.
He’s worth $110 billion.
The U.S. citizens who “own the red dot” in the above image will not be exploring space in 2020.
“A new wave of tech entrepreneurs is pledging to colonize the cosmos,” states CNN Business. The demand is there. Cirque Du Soleil billionaire Guy Laliberte paid $35 million to spend two weeks in space.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX program is planning to charge “an undisclosed amount of money” to take a Japanese billionaire to the moon.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic (SPCE.Q) is offering 90-minute flights into the upper atmosphere starting at a modest USD $200,000.
Virgin customers will board a six-seater space plane, climb to 40,000 feet attached to a mothership. The rocket-powered plane will then detach and fire up its engine while passengers white-knuckle their way up to 50 miles above ground, a boundary considered by the US government to mark the beginning of outer space.
“The price point is high, but that’s just like any other early adopter,” stated Ann Kim, managing director of frontier tech at Silicon Valley Bank. “It will come down.”
On December 11, 2019 Blue Origin the space exploration company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, launched a rocket from a test site in rural Texas, which soared 90 kilometers into the upper atmosphere.
“This marked the 12th un-manned test flight for Blue Origin’s fully autonomous rocket and spacecraft system, called New Shepard. It could be one of the last before the company is ready to start flying paying customers.”
“Blue Origin’s New Shepard is slated to compete directly with Virgin Galactic,” stated CNN, “the space tourism company founded by British entrepreneur Richard Branson, by flying wealthy passengers on scenic trips to suborbital space.
Last spring, in Washington DC, Bezos laid out his long-term vision for Blue Origin, which involves having up to a trillion humans living in “manufactured worlds”. In his vision you could decide to live in 17th Century Holland, or in a sealed community of a million ping-pong enthusiasts.
These miles-long “O’Neill Colonies,” would be placed above Earth and rotated to create artificial gravity.
“Problems on Earth should not stop us from scientific research and space exploration,” states an NBC editorial, “However, to see a man like Bezos, whose great wealth is derived from an empire built by allegedly underpaid and mistreated workers, talk about creating ‘perfect communities in space’ is a step too far.”
Fifteen years ago, Branson used to rattle on about clean air, but the Civil Aviation Organisation predicts that carbon emissions from aviation will increase 700% over the next thirty years.
Atmosfair rates Virgin as one of the worst U.K. airline polluters.
“We are all guilty,” admitted Branson recently, while adding vaguely, “We’ve simply got to get on top of it.”
Musk – an electric car builder – would appear to have more altruistic business goals than Bezos or Branson, but if he really gave a shit about the environment, he’d stop selling Tesla’s in Hong Kong, where they pump 20% more carbon into the atmosphere than conventional gas cars, due to H.K’s dirty electricity.
“EVs can work in places where there is a very low carbon intensity in electricity generation,” states one analyst, “but more than 68% of electricity in Hong Kong comes from coal.”
The U.S Strategic Command is tracking about 19,000 “artificial objects” in the Earth’s orbit, including 1,450 commercial satellites and 35,000 of pieces of “space trash” larger than four inches.
100,000 space tourists (or colonizers) are going to generate a lot more space trash.
“The space barons are shrewdly — one might say cynically — tapping into our respect for astronauts and our idealism about what space represents,” stated writer Ceridwen Dovey,” “They are counting on us to be awestruck, and to overlook the fact that their motives are not pure, nor are their methods of getting us there egalitarian.”
Mr. Bezos, Musk and Branson – before you conquer space – could you please stop peddling bullshit to us earthlings?
– Lukas Kane