What’s wrong with me?

As we remembered during the 50th anniversary of the monthly landing last year, space travel is a great challenge, a destiny that cannot be achieved – until it is. It is aspirational and inspirational. Even so, the wise guys (like me) notice that after billions were poured into the space program, all I got were Tang and Velcro. On earth, it’s not that far. It’s called space because, let’s face it, there’s not much in it.

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Yes, communication satellites are important, as is GPS, which helps Uber drive a car towards you. Keep in mind, however, that GPS first began in 1973, as it was funded to detect nuclear detonation – military technology, not space exploration. To be fair, NASA was an early Silicon Valley customer, but quickly abandoned state-of-the-art chips in favor of the most highly reliable older ones.

However, progress goes along. We now have a Space Force, founded a year ago this week. Fill boldly! Last month, a privately funded SpaceX rocket and capsule safely transported four astronauts to the International Space Station, an amazing achievement for all types of anti-government. The astronauts will conduct experiments of unknown value in Earth searches. There have been 3,000 such experiments in 20 years, although nothing has crushed the earth. Can spiders build sails in space? Not really the right things. Chuck Yeager died last week. Oh, and a former Israeli space officer says Earth was contacted by a “Galactic Federation.” Uh huh.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fascinated by hot launches and rocket stages landing on floating platforms for reuse. But I’m more in the “What’s for me?” Camp. Communications, imaging and even travel benefit us all. Are you going to Mars? I’m not so sure.

How about extracting asteroids for metals and even water? Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Eric Schmidt of Google were big supporters. But that financing spreadsheet never worked, because when it landed on Earth, the prices of these goods would fall rapidly through the floor. Good for earthlings, but not so good for return on investment, which is why it has probably not been tried.

China’s Chang’e-5 robotic spacecraft went to the moon to collect rocks (not minerals – Jesus, Mary). Uh, couldn’t we just borrow ours from 50 years ago? No one has yet found “Space Odyssey” monoliths on the moon, but one has appeared in Utah. Strange. In October, using infrared images, NASA actually found water on the sunlit side of the moon. This was after the Europeans discovered ice on the south pole of Mars in 2004. Rockets need hydrogen and oxygen for fuel, so maybe interplanetary travel will actually be a possibility one day.

Or at least Elon Musk dreams of predicting a city with millions of inhabitants on Mars by 2050. He believes he will send cargo ships to Mars in 2024 and then humans will follow in February 2027 when Earth and Mars will be closer together. on the other. Watch the Netflix series “Away” for a taste. I’m skeptical. Mr. Musk often has a fantastic relationship with programs, so maybe go on for a few years or decades.

Tin hat tops and many in Silicon Valley fear that Armageddon will come and see Mars as our safety valve. Mr. Musk wants “enough seed of human civilization elsewhere” (perhaps enough to continue to buy Teslas). Let’s hurry and colonize Mars so that humans can escape World War III or Covid-30. However, on his own nickel, he goes.

On Wednesday, Mr. Musk’s SpaceX tested a new prototype Rocket Starship SN8. Designed for Mars, the 8-mile test flight was a success, but its return ended with a fireball – what Mr. Musk called “an unscheduled rapid disassembly.”

Meanwhile, back on the third rock from the sun, maybe there is utility for all this. Mr. Musk also plans for Starship to make 39-minute suborbital flights between New York and Shanghai, compared to 15 hours today for the 7,000-mile journey. Take a boat to a floating platform, launch into the lower stratosphere, reach a peak of 16,000 miles per hour (Mach 20), and then re-enter and carefully land on another floating launch platform offshore.

If all goes well and I mean everything, SpaceX believes they will make commercial flights by the end of the decade at a cost of $ 2 million. That means $ 20,000 per passenger – no meals. I can believe it when I see it, but when I say the backrests in a full, upright position and the seat belts fastened securely, I think I will listen. Hopefully the captain has more than one weaker button.

This story was published from an agency stream with no text changes.

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