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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

About "space migration" in Cosmic Trigger

Gerard O'Neill. His writings about establishing human settlements in space excited RAW and others. 

In his discussion for Week Two of the online Cosmic Trigger reading group, Charles Faris mentions two predictions in Robert Anton Wilson's Preface that have not done well: Rapid progress in "space migration" and in life extension.

I don't follow life extension research very closely, but I noticed a clue last weekend on why RAW missed in his assessment of space exploration.

As Gregg Easterbrook pointed out in a book review in the Wall Street Journal of "Into the Black" by Rowland White,  NASA used to be known as a government agency that could achieve spectacular things in a short period of time. The moon landing was back in 1969, not long after the dawn of men going into space.

Since then, Easterbrook writes, the manned space program has been a largely pointless exercise: "The pleasant illusion of a relatively low-cost, reusable launcher started the United States down the path to the aimless space program it has today. The International Space Station was conceptualized to give the shuttle something to do; then the shuttle mission was repurposed to serve the needs of the space station. Today the ISS is the most costly object in human history, with a price tag well north of $100 billion: Its research contributions are negligible, and it has no practical value."

Perhaps when RAW wrote his Preface it was still possible to believe that NASA would get around to doing something interesting.

Easterbrook points out that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have given new hope to space exploration, and I do like to think the next few years will be productive.


Dustin said...

Elon Musk has had some recent success with SpaceX landing a rocket in the ocean. It was the first successful landing of a rocket that is planned to be relaunched. It's considered a historical achievement by many.

tony smyth said...

From the bit I read now and then Life extension it still is being researched, but the expection is more an extra 20-30 years of life at best (well at least for now). I think we'l have more important priorities very soon, as it looks very much like the shit will hit the fan very soon, as the current unsustainable paradigm collapses spectacularly. A cure for dementia would be good, or at least a way of slowing it.

Rarebit Fiend said...

I think it's worth noting that one of the more dismal assessments of why space exploration has become an unlikely horse to back is in John Higgs' Stranger Than We Can Imagine. His chapter on Space is both one of the most exciting and saddest parts of his book.

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