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A generation ago, many people predicted that we would have flying cars and bases on the moon by the Year 2000, and, while that prediction fell short, the recent hype about SpaceX and other private aerospace companies is in full swing. There are a number of companies apparently racing for the privatization of the aerospace industry, with PayPal founder, Elon Musk’s, SpaceX being the most promoted in the media. Amazon founder, Jeff Bezo’s, Blue Origin is also making waves, without the PR hype machine that Elon Musk always utilizes.
Many of these companies are focusing on lowering costs, reusable rockets, and updating flight hardware, with the highly promoted promise of consumer space travel and visits off-planet. The reality is much more bitter and “down to Earth”, these aerospace companies are primarily telecommunications industry and private military contractors, launching communications satellites, military satellites, and developing highly lucrative military contracts. A recent contract between the Pentagon and SpaceX supports the development of a rocket that carries 80 metric tons of cargo and delivers weapons anywhere in the world within an hour. SpaceX received hundreds of millions of dollars in military contracts, representing a large chunk of their 2-billion-dollar revenue.
When SpaceX is not launching or developing military hardware, it is working on its StarLink project, a network of wireless satellites beaming gigahertz radiation down to Earth to provide internet connectivity. SpaceX has launched more than 1,400 of these StarLink satellites, which some astronomers advise “threatens the very science of astronomy itself”. Regardless of the lack of benefit to humanity of this enormous communications network (how much of the world does not have internet connectivity and needs it – extremely little), and the dangers of this gigahertz frequency electromagnetic radiation bathing humanity (no clinical trials have been performed), the mission of SpaceX is clearly not space colonization as is promoted by their PR team.
And the very concept of space colonization is simply not a possibility. Regardless of the organizational and social issues, the human body cannot function in the “fractional gravity” of Mars or the Moon. The human body’s lymph system, gastrointestinal system, and skeletal system cannot function properly without Earth’s full gravity. Furthermore, the thermodynamics of moving a large chunk of society are simply not possible. Neil Armstrong worked with a group of students to publish an analysis of the requirements of humanity moving to other planets and they determined that there is not enough energy capacity nor bulldozers to mine the materials required, and these resources could not be realistically increased on any reasonable timeframe.
In the best case, future, off-planet colonies will be dystopian and will only be accessed by the richest on Earth. But this dream will be a driver to militarize Earth’s orbit, as well as the surfaces of other planets. While the dream of humanity having space colonies will motivate and excite many people, we need to be careful that this dream does not manufacture consent for space militarization, and the further deployment of useless high energy transmitters, such as StarLink, with complex risks that are not being researched.
Gregory Swan is an independent researcher, having a formal training in analytical chemistry with experience
running biotechnology companies. He has been involved with studying COVID19 and assisting a number of
commercial companies with research and business operations.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in our Science Matters column are the personal views and
opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions held by the Wet Tropic Times, its
Editor, or staff.
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