I would much rather spend my time watching rich people launch things into space that will end up benefiting everyone like SpaceX using a Tesla as the dummy payload for the Falcon Heavy test flight.
I understand the whole 'space tourism' thing, but the reality is that it's only going to be the Jeff Bezos and Richard Bransons of the world who will be able to afford this stuff for a long time to come.
The scientific return from space tourism from companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin seems far less important than the work that companies like SpaceX are doing.
I'm not sure what point I'm trying to make here, But i just feel that rich folk launching them self to the edge of space is more entertainment/marketing vs actual scientific progress.
One thing, though, is that Virgin never ran a monopoly, but a series of successful (and many failed) ventures which often displaced an incumbent in an industry where consumers were genuinely being screwed (mobile, airlines, to some extent health care).
Bezos is an unrepentant monopolist. Sure, he played the game well, but ultimately built what is now a sticky, foul smelling heap with strong lock-in effects.
Strangely I was much more accepting to see Branson in space. Bezos comment about Amazon shoppers paying for his little joy ride was unadulterated tone-deafness.
I am 100% on board with this in terms of comparing how i feel about the both of them.
> Bezos comment about Amazon shoppers paying for his little joy ride was unadulterated tone-deafness.
Agreed - It was so cringe it felt like he slipped up and said his inner thoughts out loud... Whoops!
Blue Origin has demonstrated a very sophisticated rocket, fully automated, with re-useable booster able to land vertically. They are the second in the world to have this after SpaceX, as far as I know. Next year they plan to fly their new rocket (New Glenn) that will have orbital capabilities (about 13t of payload to GTO).
Like with Dragon - SpaceX returned NASA/Americas ability to fly NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station for the first time since 2011.
SpaceX developed the first NASA-certified commercial human spacecraft system in history.
Indeed SpaceX is a commercial entity working for profit, Just like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, but I'd much rather throw my support behind the companies where the scientific benefits will flow much quicker into the public arena vs "rich dudes competing to get to the edge of space so they can call themselves astronauts"
I think a lot more human ingenuity-capacity is wasted in jealousy and resentment of others, than what these billionaires may be spending on their hobbies.
* * *
I think the Blue Origin/Virgin Galactic "buy a tourist flight to space" is not my cup of tea, and I'd rather they were doing actually useful industrious space exploration stuff. But I think their puerile vanity hobbies are also not bad for technological advancements. The engineers working on this are going to develop more skills and knowledge, and that will not be lost. It'd be better if it was to do science or some industry, but it's not a net negative either.
But then there's this overall trend of stagnating wages for everyone except owners of capital. Industries become more and more concentrated. Billionaires get richer. We have trillion dollar companies, while inflation is increasing.
We're told "Don't be a hater, let billionaires do their thing!" But then they don't pay taxes and they spend their money on space bullshit. The world they are trying to create is not a better one. They are a hog on resources and the human race is right to be sick of it.
Fuck them, they should pay taxes and everyone should stop worshipping them like some kind of golden calf. It's not about being a hater, it's about stopping an economic tumor from getting any bigger.
I don’t think this tells the full story. I know I have somewhat esoteric views about finance, but I believe that wages in terms of what they can buy have in fact been increasing faster than you’d expect just based off of the dollar amount of wages. Even though minimum and average wages have increased more slowly, the buying power hasn’t decreased (and maybe even increased).
This is based on the rate of technological progress causing massive deflation in prices of things that can be made more efficiently by said technology. Our lives have also become more convenient in the last 20-ish years, with a significant chunk of inflation being caused by people actually buying more expensive versions of things.
Think of a 2005 cell phone. Motorola Razr era. Those things cost a few hundred dollars. You could buy something with comparable (or likely even better) capability today for pennies, or even find one for free. Which means massive deflation of comparable goods. You can get full-blown smartphones now for $50 total (budget android phones). Same thing applies to lots of products.
But our lifestyles have also gotten much more expensive — it’s fairly normal to spend 2-3x what we would’ve spent on the fancy Razr phone, or even more, because we want the latest and best. If we lag behind the cutting-edge with our purchases, we’ll find that we are spending less each year on comparable products.
Look through some of these inflation charts — I tried apparel and bananas for example, but it looks like inflation has been extremely low on some standard household items (trying to ignore things that people are buying more luxury versions of these days).
All this to say — yes, income inequality is worth keeping an eye on. And yes, our tax system needs to be massively simplified to prevent loopholes. But some level of wealth inequality isn’t necessarily bad, it seems to be a pretty natural behavior that some small number of people hyper-optimize for some successful path & win — in all sorts of activities, not just wealth-building.
And, even though wages haven’t gone up a ton recently, neither have prices. People spend so much more of their money on luxuries now that it seems that cost of living has gone up, though. (Housing is an exception here that definitely has gone up)
You don't live in a Razr. Purchasing a house is outside of the realm of possibilities for most people under 30. Rent does keep growing too, and guess what, your wages don't follow.
I don't put a Razr in my gas tank, but the price keeps skyrocketing.
You're just not looking at what people _need_. Nobody gives a shit about having an Alexa in their homes, that's just a bonus.
> some level of wealth inequality isn’t necessarily bad,
If I was born in 0 BC, and worked every day of the year until today with my current salary, I would be 8% of the way to being a billionaire. This isn't "some level of inequality". It's theft and is actively damaging for society.
It's gone up so much as to eat all those cost savings, where it's only the rich benefitting from the cheaper phone. They're just as unapproachable because people have less to spend after rent
But while I'm happy to dedicate mental-space to that question, I see no advantage in dedicating that mental space on hating billionaires, nor in dedicating mental space to what the Kardashians are doing. This stuff is hero-vs-villains thinking, grounded in a comic-book like view of the universe.
For sure. Let's not kick the can down the road, let's solve it now.
> I see no advantage in dedicating that mental space on hating billionaires, nor in dedicating mental space to what the Kardashians are doing. This stuff is hero-vs-villains thinking, grounded in a comic-book like view of the universe.
See, you think this is a systems problem rather than a people problem and I am saying it is both. This system is created and supported by people, it makes sense to address those specific people. This is not a "comic book like view of the universe". Billionaires should pay more taxes and people shouldn't fall for their self congratulatory bullshit hogging a news cycle.
So people should better buy some capital!
Also the lament about stagnating wages glosses over the amount of people that have been added to the workforce. The average wage per person may have stagnated, but the sum of wages that are being paid out has increased a lot.
I think it is not a small achievement to provide jobs for so many more people.
Anger and resentment are highly charged emotions, and so they make people click, like, retweet and subscribe. So it's unsurprising that those takes are highlighted and encouraged by the social networks.
Not to say that we shouldn't fight for a better world, but we lost our way when we started attempting to do so through anger.
I've started to think the most dangerous parts of social media are the things which we agree with the most, whatever side of politics you're on.
In the case of Bezos, Musk and Branson, I think it's a case of hate the game, not the player. There are plenty more low-profile billionaires exploiting workers and using their gains for worse things than going to space (like lobbying), but we rarely talk about them because they're not in the news. Instead of hating on specific people as if their disappearance would solve the problem, we could be channeling that energy into changing the system to be fairer for all.
Castigating people for negative thoughts and how they "ruin" ingenuity is ultimately a self-defeating argument.
Does that happen? I think most people that criticize a billionaire don't dwell on it and are onto something else five minutes later. Voicing your opinion is quick and easy, and even if it changes nothing, it's too little to ruin your day.
Only a psychopath would devote that much brainpower to issues out of their control.
Also, there's a lot of context missing from your analysis. Many people find Elon Musk annoying, even a dick, but his space company has done genuinely innovative stuff and is reliably doing commercial deliveries. Bezos is an even more successful businessman, but he's also almost cartoonishly self-absorbed and increasingly looks like a guy with more money than sense. You could see everyone around him cringing today when he was 'thanking' Amazon customers and employees for paying for his Very Big Adventure.
millions of average persons dedicating 2 or 3h of their 16h/day budget on negative thoughts about other people's lives
Calling bullshit on bullshit isn't dedicating hours to negative thoughts. People dislike Jeff Bezos because his company does things like putting anti-union posters on the insides of employee toilet stalls so people can't have even a moment of privacy at work.
Maybe they made some useful advancements (any examples?), but overall this feels like saying a complicated tax code shouldn't be hated on, because it keeps accountants sharp and full of new knowledge.
There is definitely a billionaire brag race on the space frontier, but I do think it's going to benefit space exploration overall.
And the interesting part about SpaceX are all the technical details, especially as they are more public with this stuff.
Is it really? Maybe at a small scale, but I can't imagine there are that many people ready to pay more than a few thousands for 2 minutes of free fall at high altitude.
I mean, the entire Blue Origin stream was an extremely annoying fake-hype sales pitch for the less than 1% of viewers who could actually afford it.
Please, explain exactly how you came to this conclusion. And use numbers, costs of R&D, costs of launches, etc.
I'm absolutely baffled you could think this.
Of course, so is NASA itself.
- Government funding is for super high risk, high reward long shots that may never work or prove useful.
- Then, VC funding when it's high risk, but within a few years horizon of working or proving useful.
- Last, public funding for stuff that's obviously going to work.
NASA is in the business of de-risking the edge. Then VC-backed stuff like SpaceX/Rocket Lab/Relativity Space can come and do the still-risky-but-still-less-risky bets. Public companies like Boeing/Lockheed Martin can be in the business of launching rockets as is well known and done for decades now.
Your theory doesn’t hold up to actual numbers
Elon Musks stance on fighting climate change seems to be that we can just solve the problem with technology without doing much about endless consumption and waste, failing that mitigating the issues for whoever can afford to, starting with biohazard mode on your Tesla and ending with escaping to Mars. I don't want all our space tech in the hands of such a person. Happy to see China is still investing more heavily.
I'm not saying we shouldn't do both, but we have solutions now. Be it nuclear power, penalties for food waste, subsidies for public transport infrastructure, taxing fossil fuels... you get the idea. We just need politicians to stop their wishful thinking - the kind fueled by Elon Musk - and confront the realities of the situation
Unfortunately, space exploration is so expensive and useless* that these are the only two known ways to fund it.
* it appears useless to the people who are funding it, but of course we on HN know better than that
Everyone on HN: how can so many people be wrong?
the self awareness, it's lacking.
It's kind of like how a person that builds a hot-rod car gets much more respect from me than a person that buys a Bugatti supercar. WooHoo, you can whip out your checkbook and write a $1MM check. Big deal. That other guy worked on the suspension and knows how the fuel system works. That's much more impressive.
He knew he didn't have the skills or manpower to build a rocket himself, so he assembled an organization of people who would help him build it.
Then, he risked his own LIFE to be one of the first people to ride the rocket. If that's not putting trust in your engineers, I don't know what is.
Sure, you can hate on him for being rich, but at the end of the day, the man knows how to build successful companies.
"After 15 successful unoccupied test flights to space since 2015, Bezos finally declared it was time to put people on board. The Federal Aviation Administration agreed last week, approving the commercial space license."
And when it comes to Blue Origin's success, the credit should be given to Bezos's existing fortune, not to his business prowess, as much as that played a role in the growth of Amazon.
"Bezos has said he finances the rocket company by selling $1 billion in Amazon stock each year."
From my personal experience the Apollo missions had a profound impression on me and my decision to go into a engineering/math/science career. Imagine the impacts these events can have on today's kids and what they decide to do with their lives? Bezos is talking about manufacturing in space, creating moon colonies - that's exciting stuff! I don't understand the apathetic meh reaction, especially from the tech crowd.
I had similar views until 5 years ago and questioned almost every new investment/endeavour by people that required significant upfront capital investment but I think this letter has changed a lot of my thinking process.
The future of space is going to involve a lot of robots, a lot of mining other planets for resources, and a lot of space stations made from those resources.
Bezos is planning for a future where all polluting industry is moved to outer space instead of being done here on Earth. He has publicly stated this on multiple occasions recently.
Highly doubtful …
> He has publicly stated this on multiple occasions recently.
He can say whatever he likes. I still don't trust that he cares about anything beyond amassing personal control of more money/resources.
And I don't think 50-70 miles is going to be the norm. This is more of a "test" flight, which is pretty normal. Everything has to start somewhere with a baby step.
It is going to be for the foreseeable future, and I'll tell you two reasons why:
1. FAA and USAF considers everyone that's been above 50 miles (~62 kilometres) as an astronaut.
2. Von Karman line (at 100 kilometres, or 62 miles) is the closest we have to the consensus over what constitutes "space".
We could've drawn it pretty much everywhere because Earth's atmosphere disappears gradually, but these are nice round numbers previously agreed upon.
Therefore, if you're after commercial space flights (like Bezos and Branson are), that's the minimum you need to do to be able to charge millions for a "space flight". There is no incentive to go above that for commercial purposes.
Basically every human has gotten access to all the world's information in the last 10-15 years (unless their government has a firewall).
The fact that 2 people want to actually do something that is extremely inspriring to most non-envious and resentful people is a result of the fact that humanity has massively improved it's state of living recently.
And btw, generally doing inspiring things and failing forwards is much better at improving things. Just have a look at how Tesla has radically changed the car industry and turned it electric. Without Tesla the car industry would be doing fuck all to turn electric.
care to expand on why it is extinct in 15 years?
Did you mean to use some completely different word in place of "poverty" there? Because I'm flabbergasted at this statement.
Literally on the brink of extinction now.
Knowing that even with the wealth to achieve something that once took entire nations to blast off into space for a few minutes, they're still as doomed as the rest of us to perish on this indifferent rock
No man is an island, even with all the wealth in the world. All that wealth is meaningless when everyone else is gone anyhow
Planet will survive, it is incredibly ignorant to think that it even cares about pest that are humans.
No matter how much money any of them have, they can't outrun the planet itself moving on without us
obviously people are not keen on the actions /options that JB has choosen to make. Especially when you hear the stories of his employees and how much tax he pays
And what do I mean by "our money"? This is what I mean:
'Included in the many people that Bezos thanked Tuesday was “every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer. Because you guys paid for all this.” Bezos has said he finances the rocket company by selling $1 billion in Amazon stock each year.'
The fact that Blue Origin exists in the first place is evidence of the insane levels of wealth inequality that now exist in our society. At this point, everything that Bezos does is an affront to our sensibilities. The King is riding on roller coasters while his serfs are peeing in bottles.
It is not your money anymore if you gave it to him in exchange for his services.
That said its not bad space interest more and more people these days
You could say that statement on any year ever. That's not valid criticism. For one thing , branson and bezos are apparently boomer-era entrepreneurs obsessed with largesse.
For another, humans are not ready for space, we ve been there, and lost interest in going back. The next humans to go there should be genetically modified and technologically supplanted so they can make use of space, not just "go there". The world has a lot of tourism already, too much of it. Would be nice if these people spent their money on genetic/longevity research and brain-computer interfaces instead.