Avatar 2009 | Parker To Dr Grace, It's All About Unobtanium
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A lot of people are thrilled about what appears to be a successful SpaceX launch. I'm not. I think the change in the way space travel is being done forebodes some very bad things.
Elon Musk's Space-x just successfully launched, making it a first for a private corporation to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.
Astronauts and the media people who cover the space program are thrilled. Donald Trump, desperate for some positive news to take credit for, showed up the first time the flight was supposed to take off and then again, even though there was still the risk of a second cancellation.
I'm not so thrilled, and I grew up wildly excited about the space program, having read countless SciFi books.
The United States achieved massive accomplishment with NASA running things. Certainly, NASA contracted out to private corporations for work to be done, but NASA ran the show and NASA empowered astronauts to be a part of many of the historic accomplishments.
Now, NASA, probably under pressure from POSPOTUS Trump and his Senate Lackey Mitch McConnell, has ceded the control of the launch and the docking with the space station. This handing over of precious intellectual and scientific and management capital from government controlled NASA to a private company is a crown jewel for conservatives, who have as one of their strongest values, the weakening and disempowering of government, replacing it with privatized corporate delivery of products and services.
In science fiction, we've seen, countless times, how corporations have taken over space and done horrible things-- consider the company mining for unobtainium in the movie Avatar. I fear that the privatization of space could have horrible consequences. Extra-terrestrial corporate entities could create new laws, like allowing indentured servitude, slavery, destruction of planetary features. Who knows. If corporations can commercialize it or do something horrible to make a buck, they will do it.
But it gets worse. This launch was primarily automated. That's not how things were done in the early sixties. I like the fact that humans were controlling the space vehicles. I don't like to think that artificial intelligence and automated programs do all the work and decision making.
Then there's the company that did the launch-- SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, a hot dog guy who got rich in the finance world. He's the guy who said he would disobey California governor Gavin Newsom's orders regarding Covid 19 safety. And Musk has talked about how Mars is an option on how to deal with the despoiling of Planet Earth. Sorry, but Mars is not a viable plan B. It's masturbatory material for Space geeks. Yes, I liked the book and the movie, The Martian, but it was more about how a guy is challenged to survive in the most difficult situation. This shift in the approach to space travel makes the flying, world spanning artificial intelligence network portrayed in Terminator-- the one that attacks humanity-- more likely.
And SpaceX probably got the contract because the other company working on privatized space travel is Blue Horizon, owned by Amazon owner Jeff Bezos. Matter of fact, Bezos has said that that's where he's putting all the money he's making.
I am. no fan of either Musk or Bezos, so that makes me even less of a fan of privatized space business.
On the other hand, the US abandoned the space program under Bush and Obama. Perhaps, like manure fertilizer, Trump's malignant ego, as a narcissist, did some good, resurrecting the space program in any form at all.
Then again, as I watched the rocket blast off, I thought about the tons of fuel it was burning, spewing pollution into the air.