Space Travel for the Masses

An artist’s rendition of a family outing in “space” at a time way into the future, when we are able to populate “space” with hotels and resorts (Courtesy Hannah-Barbera).

This is a war of the billionaires. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos lost to Virgin’s Richard Branson in their bid for the space tourism dollar. Space tourism allows anyone with a quarter million bucks to see Earth in a way that was only available to astronauts.

If you have a quarter million dollars lying around, you can now put it to good use, according to Branson, who has been a passenger on the first test flight over the planet, some 50 or so miles above the Earth’s surface. While this is at the bare minimum to be considered “space” by NASA, it is just high enough for the passenger to feel the effects of zero gravity. Indeed it is space travel for the masses. That is, if the masses each have a quarter million bucks they aren’t using.

I just wonder if, in Branson’s travels, was he able to spot the massive forest fires in the northwest US, and southern British Columbia? If these rich people were taxed a little more, maybe we could do something about it, along with addressing social and economic problems.

I have heard of another, separate effort from a Florida-based company called Space Perspective, which is putting the finishing touches on a helium-filled balloon carrying 8 passengers. But rather than going to “space”, it merely goes as high as the stratosphere, just 19 miles into the sky. This is a cheaper venture, costing each passenger a mere 125 thousand dollars, half the price of Branson’s flight. It might be low enough to smell the smoke from the California fires, but I am not sure.

The Space Perspective venture is staffed by many of the same people that came up with a previous vanity project called Biosphere 2. Biosphere 2 was a failed attempt at trying to re-create the biosphere under entirely man-made conditions for the purpose of having these closed systems deployed in outer space. Located in an Arizona desert, it was marketed to rich investors who feared an apocalypse.

Early on into the project, insect species were dying, vertebrates were dying, there were enourmous cost overruns causing investors to bail out of the project, and soon the human inhabitants of the man-made biomes couldn’t stand each other, people were bringing in food and nutrients from outside of this so-called “closed system”, and there was Steve Bannon. Yes, that Steve Bannon. Before he knew Trump and ran Breitbart News, he was hired by Ed Bass (one of the project’s founders) to curb the huge runaway costs of the Biosphere 2 project.

A depiction of Steve Bannon, during his time being chief advisor to former president Agent Orange.

While Breitbart is famous for attempting to debunk global warming, Bannon was quite instrumental in promoting theories of global warming when he was justifying the basis for Biosphere 2 to potential investors. His highly politicized, misogynistic style of managing people is well-known to most people not under a rock between the years 2015-2020, since it bears similarity to Donald Trump and his cronies, among which was Bannon for a time. The only “scientists” who took the project seriously were, according to Wikipedia, the Russian Academy of Sciences. The site has since been taken over by the University of Arizona. Perhaps now the research will be halfway serious.

The real lesson which humanity could have learned is that there is no ecosystem ever made by manĀ  that is better than the one we all get for free here on Earth. It is a lesson not lost on Abigail Alling, former researcher and resident of Biosphere 1 and a thorn in the side of Steve Bannon.