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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dumb Daily Dvorsky: Musky for Mars Edition

Dumb Dvorsky:
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.

Oh, George!


erickingsley said...

You missed the best bit:

" Musk figures the colony program — which he wants to be a collaboration between government and private enterprise — would end up costing about $36 billion. He arrived at that number by estimating that a colony that costs 0.25 percent or 0.5 percent of a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) would be considered acceptable.

The United States' GDP in 2010 was $14.5 trillion; 0.25 percent of $14.5 trillion is $36 billion. If all 80,000 colonists paid $500,000 per seat for their Mars trip, $40 billion would be raised."

Not only is Musk pulling numbers out of his ass here but he is again living by his creed that government subsidies are bad, unless he's getting them.

jimf said...

> 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,"

But only if they forego that Tesla. It's either the Tesla
or the trip to Mars this year -- pick one.

jimf said...

> Oh, George!

Don't "Oh George" me! Elroy's tuition fees
are killing us -- we just can't afford another
trip to Las Venus this year.

jollyspaniard said...

You could probably deliver somebodies corpse to Mars for 100 million using existing technology.

I'm not sure how you market a service like that.

Chad Lott said...


Martian Cryogenics!

By the time you wake up on the Red Planet we should have the robot sex slaves figured out!

jollyspaniard said...

I think I could sell that with the right leads.

joe said...

What's kind of funny though is that the people who could afford the half a mill price (a silly amount) would be the wrong people to go...mostly.

The first years of this colony building will be horrendously tough....far harder then anything humans on Earth have had to go through.
From our ancestors walking out of Africa to the settling (by the Europeans) of the new World at least the enviroment was not actively hostile to you, you could drink the water, breath the air eat the local produce and animals....and if your hut got a hole in it you wouldn't suffocate.

Does anyone really see a load of millionaires and lets be honest a lot of them will be of the uber-Libertarian, fuck you Jack types, roughing it and trying to build a stable functional community that does not revolve around their own egos?

I predict it would last 6 months to a year and we'll recieve one final comms message that they are slaughtering each other over who is right, the Randians or the Aynians....

joe said...

Here's a post by Annalee over on Io9 I thought you'd be interested in....a little anti-Dvorsky if you will

PS check out who pops up in the comments..... :)