Is it nepotism, narcissism, nerd-ist in nature, having a God-complex or is it simply a peeing contest among some of the world’s richest people?
Space travel, exploration and possible exploitation seems to be the latest trend — if said wannabe astronaut has billions of dollars to waste. Richard Branson recently touched the outer region of space — just barely, with Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos, from Amazon fame and fortune, is attempting the same this month with Blue Origin. And of course Elon Musk (though only a backer) has SpaceX.
Currently, only the rich can pay for the ultimate trip to the Earth/space boundary and quickly back again. Call them spacecraft, rockets, vessels of rich blood — these launches into space changes the way humans can get from Point A to Point B, especially to space. Before these latest inventions, space travel was only possible for NASA and highly-trained astronauts. Now, anyone with a large wad of cash can claim fame to the space game.
Soon, casual civilians with the right amount of dough, will be asked to sign a waiver (that will most likely read something like said company is not responsible for your highly-probable death and/or not safe return) — and off to space they will go — merrily, merrily and merrily.
Sure, it would be a great experience for the regular human to secure an opportunity to explore the stars, if even for just a few minutes. The idea of any filthy rich elite having access to travel into the space realm will gradually open up a whole new can of worms, as space will become yet another place to destroy and lay claim to by humans. Just because someone can, doesn’t necessarily mean they should.
Branson, Bezos and Musk are all poster boys for product too. Will space be littered with gravity-defying high-tech billboards selling goods and services in the future? Similar to North American advertising and marketing billboards on highways and freeways everywhere. Explorers have come and gone throughout history — but, historically, they don’t always have the best track record when it comes to the old camping adage, “what you bring in, you take out.” Will billionaires follow some sort of regulations, protocol, common sense and laws? Only time will tell with this one.
Sadly, history does repeat itself, and there is the chance private space exploration will fail miserably, while taking the world and other worlds down with it. It’s a slippery slope with some many what-ifs. Are future space-aces pioneers, trendsetters and settlers and/or innovators? Can these ‘mavericks’ remain grounded, so to speak, as they embark on costly adventures and endeavours that are indeed changing the way space travel is done. But, like many things before it, space travel will not be possible for the non-rich demographic, at least not for now. Branson, Bezos and Musk have all assumed the position to be superior to the common human in regards to basic attainability for one to seek out the further regions of this world.
Space is by no means untouched. Humans have gone to space for many decades. But, what has changed is — even though the rich do some philanthropy and show compassion, money does corrupt and breeds greed with a devour and conquer attitude, it seems.
This editorial originated in the Sunny South News.