Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of the private spaceflight company SpaceX, has announced an ambitious plan to colonize Mars by shuttling 80,000 pioneers to the Red Planet at a cost of $500,000 a trip. The first phase of the program, which is contingent on the development of reusable rocket that can take off and land vertically, would start off modestly with only a handful of explorers leaving Earth at a time. But in short order, the self-sustaining population could grow into something far greater.Oh, my, how the Robot Cultists do love them some Elon Musk! Of course, I have called him, together with Peter Thiel, the Koch Brothers of Reactionary Futurology.
A handful of rapid fire quibbles will dispense with this installment eleventy-million of Dumb Dvorsky stinking up the place at io9:
First, futurological libertopians of the Ayn Raelian kind love to crow about their "private" "for-profit" space programs putting love hotels in orbit and Vegas in the asteroid belt any minute now, but one really should take care not to pretend, as I put the point here, that "becoming a government contractor engaging in a taxpayer funded exploitation of already existing mostly decades-old technology which itself already existed only because of the splendid efforts once upon a time of a For Real government space program which still made possible the launch to a state-consortium funded and maintained International Space Station represents 'Going Galt' in space."
Second, it is interesting to describe explorers enthusiastically trundling off to the Red Planet as the "first phase" of a plan, when you describe in that very same sentence the requirement of a prior step involving something nobody can actually do. Maybe we should call that the "zero phase" not only because it is the one that happens before the first phase, but also because it's the phase that futurologists want to spend zero time talking about so they can get on with the techno-masturbation, and also because it's the phase that gives this whole non-plan "plan" about zero chance of success of amounting to more than everything else Robot Cultists talk about.
Third, I just want to point out that I actually followed the link provided in the article for more details about this "ambitious plan" and discovered that the $500,000 ticket Musk is quoting here does not follow from an objective examination of the actual costs -- to the extent that such things could even be calculated for a vast project that we don't know how to accomplish in endlessly many of its actually existing demands -- but, and this is actually a quote,
Musk’s $500,000 ticket price for a Mars trip was derived from what he thinks is affordable. "The ticket price needs to be low enough that most people in advanced countries, in their mid-forties or something like that, could put together enough money to make the trip," he said, comparing the purchase to buying a house in California.Quite apart from whether we agree that half a million dollars is "affordable" in any non rich asshole based universe, quite apart from whether it is right to use the verb "derived" to describe a feeling Elon Musk pulls out of his ass, quite apart from whether one should describe as "advanced" a country that encourages this kind of insanity, I just want to point out that this bombastic content-free ass-backwards "it will cost what I think it will need to cost" bloviating is what Dvorsky is reporting as a serious proposal and an ambitious private plan for Mars colonization.