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comment by OftenBen

    I want to believe.

    But the more I've learned, the harder it is.

Behold, the story of my experience with religion and optimism.

Regarding space in specific and why I think Elon being petty on twitter is basically irrelevant.

1. Existential risk reduction is worth it. Convince me otherwise and you will also have convinced me to give a shit what a billionaire says on twitter. If he's the guy who manages to make us a multi-planet species, he could say all kinds of nasty things on twitter and I would still go into debt to buy a Tesla and thank him for the privilege.

2. You gave a number of $5.5 million to put 6 people in orbit. There are individuals to whom $5.5 million is essentially no money. The optimism I do have relies on the fact that, historically, people who accumulate great wealth are often given to massive expenditures for the sake of ego. This yacht sold for $458 million. At the $5.5 million per half dozen rate, that's over 400 individuals in orbit, or some amount of crew rotation. I have to assume that there is some economy of scale at work too. The point I am making is that titanic amounts of money are spent on useless bullshit anyway, let's spend some of it on useless bullshit that might propel us into a proper space age, and ego-driven billionaires are the ones most likely to do that.

3. Yeah, there is a substantial amount of learning to do, things to find out before we go colonizing other planets or even set up an industrial base outside of our gravity well. And I don't see any way to learn those lessons other than to try. The Wright brothers didn't get it the first try and I bet whoever sets out to start mining asteroids first is going to make mistakes too. But we don't get to just let our spark die out here on this rock.

Edit 4. We are really talking past each other here. My point is that I think ego driven billionaires are the ones most likely to spend the money required to give us even the slimmest possible chance of being a multi planet species eventually. It appears that you want to talk about why that's impossible with regard to technical detail. I am talking about the motivations of actors with the resources to attempt the endeavor.

kleinbl00  ·  181 days ago  ·  link  ·  

First principles: We started this discussion with you:

    If this or Bezos or a similar character is what is required to make us a multi-planet species, so be it.

    I don't see anybody else making an effort.

You are declaring that Elon Musk can say whatever he wants to say because he's our best bet at a "multi-planet species." And look - sure, Elon Musk can be as much of an asshole as he wants. Most robber barons were. But simple practical science says "multi-planet species" is hella harder than Elon Musk or you think it is - yet you still proclaim yourself a pessimist ("Behold, the story of my experience with religion and optimism").

Sure - if I triangulate to a future where it costs effectively nothing to get into space, I can loft a habitat for six dudes for a million dollars a piece. What you're studiously, deliberately, obviously missing is the core of the argument: what are they gonna do there? 'cuz I can get six dudes from Home Depot for a helluvalot less to do whatever I need. Six dudes in orbit can't even mow my lawn... unless my lawn is in space. We're having a hard time getting people to colonize Alaska let alone the Moon or whatever and the air in Alaska is eminently breathable. Rich dudes who want to spend a million dollars? Yeah, they exist. Rich dudes who want to spend ten thousand times that to go to Arizona-in-near-Vacuum? Smaller pool.

I've never been to the Monaco Yacht Show. It would be awesome to go someday. I have been to the International Space Developer's Conference and I can testify with authority as to the unseriousness of the affair. There were tickets available at the last minute to ride their ex-Soviet vomit comet, flown in special for the fete... and there weren't enough people willing to drop $5k for a few minutes of weightlessness to warrant coming back the next year. This is your potential pool of Mars-going billionaires.

It's not the learning. It's the economic justification. Columbus didn't land on Haiti to Boldly Go, he did it because he was looking for a faster trade route. Pizarro didn't conquer the Incas for god and country, he did it for gold.

I know what your point is. I've known all along. What you're steadfastly refusing to hear is that "ego-driven billionaires" aren't near rich enough to succeed. Read my lips: Musk can't pull it off.

OftenBen  ·  181 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Read my lips: Musk can't pull it off.

I mostly agree with you. The smart money and my own pessimism (Let's say recovering pessimist) are in agreement on that. There is a chance, however slim, that he pulls it off and a random rock floating through the system will no longer mean the flash-annihilation of the whole biosphere.

I still don't see anybody else trying. The guys riding, or not riding, the vomit comet for funsies are not the folks I imagine funding a moon base or floating shipyard/refinery or the ones I'd imagine going to Mars. When I say a Musk or Bezos like character that's really the type of individual I am talking about to fund/organize such a venture. That smaller pool you referenced. As far as the 'what are they going to do up there?' problem, I am hedging my bets that there is economic incentive in mining asteroids. As an example, there could be a small station that refines hydrogen/hydrazine from dirty snowballs and will top-up your satellite for a fraction of the cost of sending a refueling mission from deep in the gravity well. I definitely think that there is not enough information to completely rule out the idea that there is value to be found outside of that well.

When he fails you are welcome to rub all the salt you want in every bloody wound you can find. I already ate crow when Mars One was exposed, I'm used to the taste.

kleinbl00  ·  181 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's entertaining to me that I'm the pessimist on this discussion and the optimist on the other one.

My fear is that the only obvious, expedient use case for space is military. Our advances in manned spaceflight were all proxy warfare with a rival power; our vehicles and methods of manned spaceflight are all military derivatives. Except, of course, SpaceX, which is now launching NRO payloads.

The way forward in manned spaceflight looks a lot like the cold war.

OftenBen  ·  181 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    It's entertaining to me that I'm the pessimist on this discussion and the optimist on the other one.

I feel the same.

    The way forward in manned spaceflight looks a lot like the cold war.

It's a possibility that it's the only way forward. I would love to see alternatives. I have not.