Amateurizing space flight

Over at Bad Astronomy, Phil Plait has a great article linking a great video about the Virgin Galactic space program.

It’d be nice if the auto-embed feature of WordPress actually worked as advertised. Just write the URL, they say. It’s automatic they say. Look folks, we can put an artist into space now, why can’t I embed video?

Okay. Now that is what I mean when I say “blue collar space”. Sure, one side of it is the industry of individual labourers in a new environment — that’s certainly what I mean by “blue collar” and blue collar work in space is an indicator of the move from government to corporate levels of exploitation, which is a definitive change in technological level in our game, Diaspora. But the other side is that because of the change from government to corporate operation, the technology can become recreational.

And more than that, purely academic, because now someone can go through the usual grants process to do research, and do it in space. Without anything more special than meeting the price tag. This is a serious disconnection from the government scale of operation, which is one reason why it is a technology level change: small groups of individuals decide how to use the technology. And as the technology advances, the number of people that need to be directly involved dwindles. That doesn’t mean you can fly to work on a jetpack — it means your can book a flight, catch a cab, fly, and be at your workplace in London without having to organize a thousand people. The corporate scale is a way of harnessing other peoples’ incidental organization for personal function. When you say “I am flying to London” you really mean that — it’s all about your decisions — even though there are thousands of people involved in making it happen.

So now we are being invited into space on a similar scale of agency. The price tag is still high enough that we are not talking about everyman, but that seems likely to change over time. And I know at least one person is watching that video and wondering if there’s a way to get a paper on classical Greek theatre out of a high altitude launch.

–BMurray


3 Responses to “Amateurizing space flight”

  • Bob Says:

    At a cost of $200,000 a ride, that would seem to be more like ‘black tie and tails’ than ‘blue collar’ space.

  • clash bowley Says:

    $200 K is peanuts compared to sending a Mercury astronaut up, or a ride on the shuttle. :D

    I’ve been waiting for this – the corporate-izing of space – my whole life. I’d have given a literal testicle to go, but at my age they aren’t worth anything… :D

    -clash

  • Roger Says:

    We’re sort-of there in aviation. It’s well within the reach of many blue-collar folk today to assemble and fly their own aircraft. Lots of people don’t, for a variety of reasons, of course. But some people do.

    You could probably get into space on the cheap with high-altitude balloons, if you really wanted to. Getting down from there might be… exciting.

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