When I was a kid, parents would tell their kids to finish their meals because there were starving kids in Africa, India, and, China. Since the food in front of me could not get to those places, I’ve always wondered what the point of the lecture was, besides reminding me that poverty was a world-wide problem.
I’m reminded of such moments when the topic of “space tourism” crops up in the news. Billionaires Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos are all promoting this concept, lining up folks who have $200,000-plus in their pockets to experience an approximate 15-minute joyride in a rocket that clips the tip of the atmosphere and descends back to earth.
I’m informed that hundreds of people have already put down deposits and now there is a waiting list to take this little jaunt. This is a fabulous “look” for the super rich. Do the tech moguls in the USA pay any attention to the thousands of homeless, many in front of their offices (hello Twitter), as they jump in the Limo for the 15 minute jaunt into space to capture some country club bragging rights? This is beyond a “let them eat cake” moment.
Who in this crowd will take a run on all three of the eventual services so that he can be the expert at the Pacific Union Club? “Ask Brad which is best, he’s been on all three at least twice!”
While everyone is giddy about this, what would happen if one of these things blows up, as rockets still do? That would put a crimp in the space tourism game, no?
And how, by any stretch of the imagination is this considered “tourism”? Shooting from Paris to Bordeaux in the high speed TGV train is not “touring the French country side” and that ride is a lot longer than 15 minutes.
My biggest fear about going on one of these joyrides would be finding a squeamish passenger in the group with a sudden weak stomach who manages to vomit into the cabin during the flight. This would be more disgusting during the moments of zero gravity. The puke would spread everywhere and coat everything and everyone with a layer of acrid bile and stomach acids. Not the experience of a lifetime to brag about, that’s for sure.
And so much for the view out the windows.
Also, let’s not overlook the fact that these unnecessary flights are serious polluters. Rocket fuel systems of any sort have a carbon footprint. You can be sure at least half if not more of the customers will be global warming alarmists. How does that work with the rocket trip? This may be overlooked, though, since all these people like to take private jets to climate summits to make plans for the “little people.”
With Elizabeth Warren and others promoting the idea of a surtax on the super-wealthy, this sort of extravagance definitely sends the wrong signals to a public that likes to imagine that if they got lucky, they could be rich, too. This is the same public that keeps the government from going crazy and gouging the rich because they can imagine it might be them someday.
This connection between a deluded public and the super rich is somewhat fragile. When the rich start to show off in offensive ways while doing nothing about the homeless or the poor, it’s noticed and not appreciated.
It takes a lot of nerve telling people how they can spend their money and I’m not one to finger wag. I’m not doing that here. Take your rocket ride and have fun.
But, I’m noticing that some people are getting fed up with a rich class in America that profited during the pandemic while locking down the masses who are are now struggling.
Now, all of a sudden, “space tourism” emerges. People who take these rides should not be thrilled. They should be ashamed. --jcd
July 16, 2021