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2021-07-24

Spaceflight for the Wealthy? Seriously?

tags: environment grumpy



The news have been about manned space flight lately.


On 2021-07-11 Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic) has flown to 50 miles (85 km) altitude from New Mexico. The flight included approximately 3 minutes of weightlessness.


On 2021-07-19 Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) has flown to 107 km altitude from Texas. The flight lasted a bit over 10 minutes.


Elon Musk is expected to fly as well.


https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/bezos-branson-musk-are-fighting-over-space-bragging-rights-who-n1274538



I am not a fan of manned space flight. Allthough I have to accept, that homo sapiens is going to try it anyway. While I do not mind to fly a few folks to the International Space Station once in a while, the list of reservations which Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin have announced, just blows my mind.


I found this piece of information (German news site) to set these flight into perspective. Such a flight produces the equivalent of roughly 400 to 600 commercial transatlantic flights in CO2 emission. While I suspect the details are a bit more involved, physics will tell you, that it takes an amazing amount of energy in a similarly amazing short time intervall "to put some clown on the moon" (stolen from Tom Lehrer).

https://www.swr.de/swraktuell/radio/kritik-an-weltraum-trips-der-milliardaere-co2-ausstoss-von-400-bis-600-transatlantik-fluegen-100.html



So it looks like the old game: almost everyone on the planet, who can never afford a suborbital flight for the views, are asked to use less of anything (fuel and other CO2 producing items), while watching a totally insignificant fraction of homo saps wasting unbelievable amounts of precious and finite resources. Unbelievable. Isn't this the kind of constellation that sparks revolutions?


This makes me mad.

~ew


PS: Even if we believe that space flight might some day save humanity by sending a handful of selected folks to extra solar colonies, they probably wont get anywhere. "A canticle for Leibowitz" ends at the liftoff of said escape flight.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Canticle_for_Leibowitz



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