Billionaires in Space: A Critique of Problem Areas

I watched an interesting new program Friday night on HBO, it is hosted by actor-comedian Wyatt Cenac, and it is called Problem Areas. On the show Cenac examines quite a few social and cultural topics that we face here in America. The show has the potential to be a really good break through, especially in the current climate our country is currently facing.  Cenac offers a food for thought approach to topics instead of standing on a preachy soapbox.

I’m going to focus on one particular topic in this episode.

In last night’s premiere, one of the topics he covered was billionaires and space exploration. He brought up a point about billionaires are all of a sudden interested in leaving Earth and going into space.

When you bring up the topic of billionaires and space exploration, I guess you must single out Elon Musk. Cenac points out that Elon’s quest for space exploration could be considered problematic due to the fact, in his opinion, that Elon is also from South Africa. He jokingly stated that his comments could be considered racist, but so was apartheid.

As Cenac continued, he mentioned Musk’s recent launching of his Tesla roadster into orbit.

I was taken back a bit by these comments, but truthfully, it did get me to think. Was Cenac saying that the fact that Musk being South African, that he is somehow responsible for the ills of apartheid and therefore unqualified to participate in an evolutionary step for mankind? I do have a serious problem with that assumption. But maybe since Cenac is a comedian he was making a joke, but his comment did seem flippantly serious.

To be fair, he did talk about Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Richard Branson of Virgin and one or two others, but spent most of his commentary in this segment focusing on Musk.

The whole billionaires in space segment alluded to the fact that the men of massive wealth simply want to leave the planet that they screwed up without providing a fix and leaving us commoners behind. There is a big problem with that theory. Unless there’s a secret planet in our own solar system that is habitable and all it takes is a quick rocket ship trip to get there, then Cenac message at that point doesn’t hold water.

Currently none of us can get into a 737 or a Cessna for that matter and leave the Earth’s atmosphere. It takes a lot of energy, personnel and capital to get into space, especially if you want to go to a certain destination like a space station. We would have to be in the  Star Trek era for something like that.

For him to suggest that billionaires are trying to escape a planet that screwed up, then these guys have a rude awakening ahead of them. Without the commoners on earth there is no infrastructure, there is no home base, and a few guys of wealth aren’t going to have any structured kind of survival.

The bottom line is that space travel requires a lot of people and capital to reach orbit which means either have to be a country are a people of means to achieve this endeavor. If these guys are willing to put forth the capital to move us into space travel then so be it. Gone is the argument about wasting tax dollars.

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