Sci-(Non)Fi: Tickets to Space
September 30, 2013 § Leave a comment
A collection of Virgin Galactic’s first batch of space tourists gathered in the Mojave Desert last week. The astronauts formed an eclectic group, from an 11-year-old Pakistani girl to a 59-year-old grandfather from Maryland. For most people, $250,000 to let Richard Branson launch you into space for a fifteen minute ride seems unreasonable, and it probably is; but that won’t stop me from buying a ticket as soon as I scrape enough change from underneath the couch pillows.
Why would I be so interested in going to space? Because Warren Ellis told me so, of course. Back in 2010, he ranted a bit harshly in Wired against the funding cuts to NASA’s manned space flight program:
Exploration has always been central to the human drive. Not because of population pressure, nor trade necessity, but because it’s in our essential nature to wonder what and where is next. We are unique in the biosphere as creatures of imagination. Robot missions do not thrill us because the empathetic engagement is on a level with watching a Roomba do a decent job of hoovering some carpet fluff. It is nowhere near the same as seeing and hearing one of us walking somewhere brand new and telling us about it in the knowledge (however misguided that might eventually prove) that more of us, the rest of us, will follow.
He does say a few disparaging words about “quickie space tourism,” but that’s only because he wants a manned mission to Mars yesterday. I do, too, but since I don’t want to commit myself to that (I’d rather commit someone else to it) I’ll settle for a shorter jaunt out of the atmosphere.