“Astronomy compels the soul to look upward, and leads us from this world to another.”
— Plato, The Republic, 342 BCE
I had just started listening to Crrow777 Radio’s new podcast (episode #3, linked below) when something I’d been thinking about, sort of came together. I stopped the podcast at around the eighteen minute mark to write this. It actually began as a comment on that episode’s page, but quickly mushroomed into a much larger thought, then a thought experiment. These things happen, cope.
The discussion was beginning on the topic of what space is, or, actually may be. That statement alone, set off the proverbial “light bulb” (queue the scene fade and twinkly space music)…
All we know of space is what we’ve been told. What we’ve read in text and science books. What we’ve imagined from novels, television shows, movies and even music. The entirety, ingrained into our heads using stunning computer generated images (CGI). Most, if not all, NASA images are “beautified” high frequency radio signal data, or photons. These exist in a spectrum that we, the public, cannot ourselves detect. In fact, it may not even be possible for a “civilian” to purchase certain wavelength detection equipment. I don’t know, that is a guess. But you see where I’m going. Space is there in the “news”, daily. But it’s perpetually, physically, out of reach.
Lately, there sure do seem to be a lot of stories in the “mainstream” about “space”. Mostly from, or about, NASA, regarding going to Mars; such and such happening on the ISS (that’s a whole other post for sure); new Pluto pictures; new Ceres pictures; new asteroid flybys; yada, yada, yada. The activity is very in your face. Daily. I hope you’re enjoying it because that’s your tax dollar, hard at work. It’s making the media companies rich as well. They have to propagate the stories in order for our conception of space to remain solidified. For that, they’re paid via advertising dollars, sponsorships, etc. I’d even argue that those costs would eventually trickle all the way back down to the consumer, thus essentially double taxing you for “space” projects. I don’t know this to be true, it is just a thought. Most government imposed fees are eventually baked into what the consumer actually pays for a product. FCC fees from your cable provider are one such example. But I digress.
In addition to the steady flow of stories, there are the new private “space” startups. All funded by internet/old money billionaires, and/or Wall Street via IPOs. I’m sure you can think of at least one if you try. These guys are getting all the new NASA and civilian contracts to deploy “payloads” into “space”. Like satellites for, you know, those media companies, and I suppose food and junk to the space station maintenance crew. It just appears as though NASA is planning on outsourcing all of its “space” activity. Perhaps even planning on it’s own dissolution, only to become a paper-pushing oversight office? Read on.
If “space” is a legit, tangible endeavor for the human race to embrace, then yes, I can see it costing trillions upon trillions of dollars between the public and private sectors. Nor would I have a problem with the overall purpose being to further humanity forward. This has created the new global “space” industry, where you’ll want your investment your IRA money in ten years. I’m sure it will eventually even eclipse the energy sector. At some point, a majority of new investment dollars will soon be going into all kinds of “space” projects. That’s really a shitload of cash. How much? Quadrillions? We don’t know. We can’t know.
So that leaves one, well me, asking two questions (and this is where the thought experiment aspect begins):
Question #1 – What do we really get for our tax dollars other than pretty CGI, or better put, what has “space” ever done for me?
This was hard to answer. I could only think of one thing. The “space” pen, a birthday gift long ago. I even know a funny story about its creation. It cost the American tax payers approximately $1.5 million dollars in 1965 (that’s $7,580,929.48 in today’s dollars, I looked it up and did the math) to develop a pen that could write in “space” (i.e. upside down). The Russians, also in this new “space” race, had the exact same problem. Do you know how they solved the problem? They brought pencils, plain old number two pencils. But we spent, what is now the equivalent of, $7.5 billion dollars to design a fucking pen?! And that’s just the cost of a single pen design and implementation. Can you imagine what the true, full cost of all the Apollo missions is in today’s dollars? I can’t. Nor do I want to even try to calculate it, it will just piss me off. Hell, I would wager it isn’t possible to find out the true cost without filing dozens of FOIA requests, and you know how sketchy that can be.
But wait, there’s more! Lurking inside this first question was an evil twin. I now was curious, where did all of that money go?
Richard Dolan, the great secret “space” program historian, suggests that the money was used to form what he has coined a “breakaway civilization”. A group of super rich elites who have awesome flying saucers and lightspeed travel, who galavant across the solar system doing who knows what. Space polo I suppose. Ok, I can see that possibly happening. All the while, the public is hoodwinked into thinking it’s some new, great place everyone needs to go to. Like the next biggest hotel casino in Vegas.
As it so happens, that meme is also awash in the “stream”. The “space” tourism carrot is being dangled in our faces. It was even out there recently. Two stories, if I recall correctly. Both, delicately injected into the “mainstream”. That stream which is now being filled weekly with an onslaught of amazing new <fill-in-the-blank> space “news”. The end result of all this noise is an harmonious chord, that seemingly resonates with the public. Maybe it’s NLP. Maybe people are just that stupid. I do not know.
I do know this. Back in May of 2015, while everyone was freaking out about what was going to happen in September, our fine congress passed this gigantic piece of legislation, lovingly called, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (H.R. 2262). It passed the Senate on November 10, 2015 and was signed into law by the president on November 25, 2015. The day before Thanksgiving, as it happens.
As an aside to these dates, the president, according to his own schedule was in Kuala Lumpur November 20 through the 22. He then was in France from November 29 until December 1, 2015. He must have flown home from Kuala Lumpur to make the stupid turkey pardon gesture, and sign the Space Act of 2015. I’m pretty sure congress was already on recess at that point. In any case, because all of that did actually already happen, we now have the official government Office of Space Commerce. Is this what NASA is slowly transitioning into?
So, when I step back and take a look at the larger picture, what I really see happening is that “space” is being commercialized. This commercialization is being, or has been funded, by the “space” program. It’s happening constantly, behind our backs, and without our involvement. On top of that, we, the public, have managed to form a semi-symbiotic relationship with the “space” propaganda machine. As long as we’re continually interested in quote-unquote “new discoveries in space”, it will continue to be funded and invested in. Maybe this is the ouroboros and the public is the tail.
With the twins wrestled somewhat, the second question can be asked:
Question #2 – What is “space”?
It is exactly as we’ve been told. An empty, infinite lifeless void. Full of rocks that maybe hold gold or diamonds or some precious thing for which someone will pay money. Maybe even microbial life, if we’re lucky.
It is a lie, a “construct”, a grift, a very long con. Call it what you will. It is something designed to be so unquestionable that vast amounts of money could be spent on it by the private or public sector without accountability (sound familiar?). Honestly, all we get out of it are the goofy shenanigans of people doing mundane shit in a weightless environment. If I had trillions of dollars, I am 100% certain I could produce an anti-gravity chamber. I’d wager anyone reading this post could as well. I’d even go so far as to speculate that it is extremely simple to create an anti-gravity environment. But our science perhaps has been obfuscated partially, as to make it seem impossible. Because of this, no reputable university or research institution would ever be allowed to even look into such nonsense. Especially since much of their work these days is funded solely by government grants, which I am certain have strings.
Now I’m in a quandary. I don’t know what “space” is, and I’m not convinced I’m being told the truth. I’m being forced to question the existence of space, or that it has been intentionally misdescribed to us. Yes, I know, it sounds ludicrous. But in order to be a critical thinker one must consider all probable possibilities. When all possibilities have been considered, you’re then free to determine which one is the most likely to be true. I suppose that’s just Occam’s Razor regurgitated, but the point remains the same. If you were expecting answers to the questions, I’m sorry. I don’t have them. You’ll be the first to know if I ever find them.
Space may be the final frontier, but it doesn’t look like we, the people, will be the pioneers.
Header image courtesy of InFINxTi at http://infinxti.newgrounds.com/. Thank you!