Just have to laugh

June 14, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

You know how they tell the news on CBC Radio 1. Very calm and straightforward, with no heavy emphasis or side comment – they just say it as though everything is making sense.

Recently, one of those calm CBC voices told the world that Boeing’s Starliner rocket successfully took two astronauts on board up to the International Space Station (ISS). Years behind schedule and a billion or more dollars over budget.

Said the news anchor, something like, “Boeing is working on building rockets and shuttles to compete with Space X.”

It made me laugh to think that of all that huge money being spent twice within the United States. Rather than collaborating, they compete.

In 2022, Elon Musk challenged the UN to tell him how his offer of $6 Billion would truly feed all the starving people on earth for a year. He claimed he would end world hunger in that year if they could present a plan. More or less. Naturally, the UN rose to the challenge and told him in great detail how his $6.6 billion could work – they gave him facts and figures and he backed out. A news release from his company later said that he had donated a large sum to another organization. And the starving continued.

So, Musk and Boeing develop vehicles separately with NASA to “ferry astronauts to the space station and do low orbits,”

It is in the nature of humans to fail the better cause. We cannot make it as space explorers because we can never get what keeps us back – our inability, our disinclination in general for altruism.

Altruism is defined as behaviour that is designed to benefit another person without regard to a reward. To do well for another, even at a cost, without expecting anything in return. Yes, there are plenty of examples every day of brave individual rescues, acts of kindness, small somethings for nothing but as a species, we have starving people suffering from the ravages of completely unnecessary wars and committing daily ravages on our environment. Well, the damage we inflict on each other is unending.

All this only makes me laugh because our preoccupation on self means our motives for space travel are too focused on individual wants.

A billionaire wants to be the one to go and settle on Mars for the sake of his name in history. He wants the credit and the praise to achieve this on his own with, of course, the hardy folk with all the expertise at NASA.

Yet, it is about him, not about how it would benefit a population. He will let them starve. He calls his recently purchased internet platform X – what more is there to say about that? X-rated; X marks the spot.

Not only Americans are space racing. The Chinese have landed a mechanism on the dark side of the moon, from where they hope to retrieve moon samples. All part of pioneering presumably.

In 2023, India was the fourth country to land a spacecraft, Chandrayaan-3 on the moon. From the 1970s, scientists in India have been researching the many practical aspects of space travel. Since the success of Chandrayaan-3, India’s ambitions have accelerated to compete with China through ambitious plans for people to travel, including space stations and landing on the moon.

Russia’s space programs and ventures are essentially stalled from the burden of its two-year illegal, immoral, unjustified and ruinous invasion of Ukraine.

From the 1950s, the UK and continental Western Europe recognized the benefits of collaborative research by forming the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN and, based on that model, established a number of similar organizations, each concerning itself with different but involved matters of space from the mid-1950s up to the present day. They allowed for a progression of other organizations, each researching as contributions, not only to the development of space travel but also to the technology launched into space such as telescopes. 

In 1967, the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) was established in Germany from where it has operated 50 satellites in 40 years.

The European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) began in 1962 to develop spacecraft and in the early 1970s, joined forces with NASA to build Spacelab, a modular science package to be used on Space Shuttle flights.

The depth and breath of space study, travel, and unlikely settlement (my opinion) on other planets with the morals, continuity of the philosophy of space exploration and why we want to do this, cannot be decided by a single wealthy man.

If we truly expand our horizons into space, we cannot compare it to those early days of initial ocean travel. We must positively change who we are from the vicious wretches who travelled to Africa and the Americas, brutalizing and, as individuals, grabbing all they could, each for himself. Back to school for all of us to redefine the big picture of what a human could be.

Realistically though, it is too late for any chance to actually find and settle on a new home. If we can learn that lesson, we should stay on Earth and put those massive no-real-hope resources to mend this perfect planet.

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