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Sun Nov 2, 2014, 10:24 AM

Interesting op ed on The Virgin crash at Wired.

Interesting op ed on The Virgin crash at Wired.

SpaceShipTwo is not a Federation starship. It's not a vehicle for the exploration of frontiers. Virgin Galactic is building the world's most expensive roller coaster, the aerospace version of Beluga caviar. It's a thing for rich people to do. Testing new aircraft takes a level of courage and ability beyond most humans. Those engineers and pilots are at the peak of human achievement. What they're doing is amazing. Why Virgin is doing it is not. When various corporate representatives eulogize those two pilots as pioneers who were helping to cross the Final Frontier, that should make you angry. That pilot died not for space but for a luxury service provider. His death doesn't get us closer to Mars; it just keeps rich people further away from weightlessness and a beautiful view.


I said "interesting", I do not necessarily agree, but there is more here:
http://www.wired.com/2014/10/virgin-galactic-boondoggle/

14 replies, 1320 views

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Reply Interesting op ed on The Virgin crash at Wired. (Original post)
kpete Nov 2014 OP
cantbeserious Nov 2014 #1
scarletwoman Nov 2014 #2
MrScorpio Nov 2014 #3
tblue37 Nov 2014 #4
Brainstormy Nov 2014 #12
hunter Nov 2014 #5
MannyGoldstein Nov 2014 #11
hunter Nov 2014 #13
brooklynite Nov 2014 #6
MannyGoldstein Nov 2014 #9
SheilaT Nov 2014 #7
oldandhappy Nov 2014 #8
KingCharlemagne Nov 2014 #10
MisterP Nov 2014 #14

Response to kpete (Original post)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 10:33 AM

1. Moving Further Toward Corporate Controlled Space Endeavors Will Bring Similar Tragedies

eom

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 10:38 AM

2. I *do* agree with it.

That pilot died not for space but for a luxury service provider. His death doesn't get us closer to Mars; it just keeps rich people further away from weightlessness and a beautiful view.


I think that's right on.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 10:38 AM

3. I could not agree more nt

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 10:48 AM

4. When the European explorers went out to the New World, they

were not doing "science," but just trying to make a big profit for wealthy, powerful people and corporations who were funding their voyages.

Now, their "discovery" of the New World is a history of genocide, brutality, and exploitation of natural resources without regard to environmental devastation, so I am not saying that European colonization of the globe was necessarily a "good" thing. However, the only reason most exploration (and an awful lot of science) ever gets done is because rich and powerful people expect to make a profit--or other rich and powerful people expect to get some sort of pleasure or entertainment from the results.

VG's scientists are doing science and technology development, and the science and technology they produce will be added to the scientific and technological knowledge of the human species, even if its purpose is to give rich people a roller-coaster ride.

Besides, I think Branson really is an idealist who longs to see humans moving around in space as though we belong there.

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Response to tblue37 (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 11:32 AM

12. well said, tblue. n/t

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 10:59 AM

5. Sending humans to Mars would be an expensive stunt too.

Theres not much difference between astronauts going to Mars for reasons of nationalism, human pride, and human exceptionalism, or wealthy people going for a joyride in near space. There's nothing "scientific" about either of those activities except in the development of new technologies.

The Star Trek universe does not exist. The reason we haven't met any space aliens is that technological societies either destroy themselves, figure out how this universe works and create their own universe to live in, or decide to accept their biological existence and enjoy life within the planetary ecology they evolved in.

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Response to hunter (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 11:26 AM

11. Except it would be *our* collective stunt

 

Not a stunt by a small clutch of people.

Landing on the Moon was a stunt, too. But it was magnificent, an inspiration to so many on our planet that showed we can do the impossible when we have the will.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #11)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 12:17 PM

13. My grandfather was one of the many engineers who built that.

His work for the Apollo Project was, by far, his proudest achievement. Bits of the machines that carried men to the moon were his.

He'd talk about that work. He didn't talk about his work as an Army Air Force officer during World War II which involved a lot of corrosive and distasteful secrecy.

I've got his Apollo 8 medallion.



There were 200,000 of these minted, which illustrates just how many people were involved.

Nevertheless, I think humans belong in space as much as penguins belong in my bathtub. But that's just my opinion. Establishing a human presence in space is inspiring stuff to many people.

I'm the sort who would rather send robots into space than be there myself and human space travel is discouraging to me in it's competition for limited space research dollars.

Even so manned space exploration is a more inspiring use of dollars than aircraft carriers named after assholes (Reagan, the elder Bush) and useless fighter aircraft.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 11:00 AM

6. How many ordinary schlubs traveled at the dawn of passenger aviation?

The initial price of any item will be high; pricing will come down with economies of scale and technological development. Unless the op-ed writer believe that space flight should always be limited to "official" and "necessary" travel, you have to start somewhere.

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Response to brooklynite (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 11:11 AM

9. "Ordinary schlubs"

 

Nice.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 11:00 AM

7. What tblue37 said.

 

We will not have colonies on the Moon or on Mars or any hope of starships unless private enterprise gets involved. Fickle taxpayer funding isn't going to do it. If the only people who ever get to go into space are sent there by the government, not very many will ever go. Well, maybe governments will establish penal colonies out there, but I sort of doubt it.

The first cars were toys for the wealthy, and I recall my mother once telling me that when she was in nursing school in the mid-1930's, a classmate thought she was rich because her father owned a car. They weren't rich, but cars were just making that transition from "you had to be rich to have one" to something many, many ordinary people owned. Today, not having a car (outside of NYC) tends to be a mark of poverty.

So to condemn Virgin Galactic because only the very wealthy will ever fly on their vehicles, misses the point. If you ever hope that you or your grandchildren can vacation or live off earth, you should be happy VG is doing their share to make that happen.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 11:04 AM

8. Incredible how much money is out there...

and how it gets spent.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 11:22 AM

10. "The world's most expensive roller coaster." - Um, hello. Oh, yeah, and the most

 

expensive verification of Ecclesiastes' observation (applied here to Branson) that "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity."

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Sun Nov 2, 2014, 02:25 PM

14. and getting us closer to Mars is somehow not also caviar?

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