Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Falcon Heavy Launch : A big day for Humans

Last week, SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy, a rocket capable of lifting cargo beyond Earth's orbit, to the Moon or Mars.  Along with presumably thousands of other people, I watched the live feed with baited breath.  So I was surprised when I encountered friends online who respectfully questioned why this was really of any consequence.  Sure it's thrilling.  So was the Eagles' Superbowl victory.  But does a billionaire sending a sports car into interplanetary space really have any more significance than a sports victory?

I think it does.

Although the stated goal is distant, I think that the technologies developed to explore space are usually of the most benefit here on Earth.  Life support equipment in particular is always designed with the goal of making humans healthier and more comfortable while using the least resources.  There isn't anything of that is designed to provide humans with clean water and food on Mars that isn't of use in the under-served parts of the world.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to reveal my ignorance (full-on luddite English major here), but I do think the SpaceX progress is cool. I don't understand it technically, and issues of interplanetary travel and residence are not obviously as direct or dire as some of our earth- and human-on-earth issues, but I celebrate the vision and the intense nerdiness of it. The money and time spent on space is better than, say, all the money and time spent on the Olympics, or on profressional sports in general. There, I've said it.
    Now I just wish Neil Degrasse Tyson would go on a hunger strike until the big countries passed carbon pricing.