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Thread: Billionaires Blast off

  1. Top | #11
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angra Mainyu View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SLD View Post
    Does anyone else find themselves secretly hoping that one of them explodes?

    That’s wrong I know, but what’s the point of these trips? They aren’t advancing science. They’re just going a multi million dollar thrill ride.
    Yes, Some people probably find themselves hoping that secretly, and others not so secretly. I'm not in either category. They're using their own money to have some fun (and also it's publicity). You could argue against that on, say, environmental impact grounds, and that would at least get some matter for debate. But you seem to hate them just because it's a multi million dollar thrill ride. What if it is? (though it's actually also for publicity, as they want to sell such thrill rides to other very rich people).
    Unless you're an autocratic king or dictator, nobody has their own money.

    Money is a measure of what your society owes you. It's not property, or a commodity, and it doesn't belong to you. It's a measure of what society owes you at any given point in time, and your society gets to decide how it fluctuates in value. You might have some of it taken away as tax, or some of the value of it taken away by inflation. Or you might be given some for whatever reasons society has to give it away - as payment of salary for bureaucrats or soldiers; as a benefit to people otherwise unable to support themselves, or their families; as a grant for education, or public art, or scientific research.

    Money hasn't been a commodity people can own for almost a century.

    It's a measure of what the world owes you. And nobody's done enough for the world to be owed a super yacht, or a private spacecraft.

  2. Top | #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    The Apollo program broke new ground, and pushed the boundaries of the possible.
    It did. But it stalled. The science since then has been done with unmanned probes.

    These billionaires are making short sub-orbital flights that don't even get into space. If you don't cross the Kármán Line - 100km altitude - you aren't in space.
    Well, Bezos' trip will be just above the Kármán Line for what's that worth. I think these trips are best described as to "the edge of space" no matter what side of the Line they are on.

    What these guys are doing would have been impressive and innovative seventy years ago; But it's neither today.
    They are not pushing the envelope on how high or how far. They are not boldly going where no man has gone before. But nobody is pretending they are. The point is a) that it is fully private spacecraft and b) that the purpose is to fly paying customers for the purposes of tourism.

    Anything that might have been learned from this was already learned a lifetime ago.
    They are not just flying to the edge of space. They created companies that designed and built the hardware to do so, hoping to attract enough paying customers.
    If they manage to bring the cost to say $10k or $20k per launch over time, that would be a tremendous thing.

    As far as it being pathetic, why? Because Yuri Gagarin and Alan Shephard have done it 60 years before? Bah! Space, even suborbital space is still a very exclusive club, with fewer than 600 people going there out of maybe 10 billion humans who have lived on Earth since 1961. That's far fewer than the 10,000 who have climbed Mt. Everest since 1953, just as a comparison.
    Today it's just showing off their wealth in a pathetic display of conspicuous consumption.
    If they can afford it, why not? I think conspicuous consumption is only pathetic when you are living beyond your means to front. Like leasing a BMW when you don't know where your car insurance payment will come from. But this? What's the problem?

  3. Top | #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    It's a measure of what the world owes you. And nobody's done enough for the world to be owed a super yacht, or a private spacecraft.
    And then what, comrade? Expropriate the rich like they did in the glorious Soviet Union? How did that work out?

  4. Top | #14
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    The drop it from a plane & take it to the edge of space isn't something new. Only that it was funded privately, as far as I know.

    https://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstro...-052-DFRC.html

    First flight in 1959. 3 were made 199 flights between them.

  5. Top | #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toni View Post
    I don't agree.
    I am not surprised.

    First of all, the impact on the environment must be very significant and I don't think it's justifiable just to massage the egos of a bunch of rich people.
    Not really. Those trips are going to be one-offs for most of the passengers. It's not like Branson or Bezos or any of their customers are going to be taking the trip on a weekly or even yearly basis.
    But plenty of rich people fly in their private jets pretty regularly.

    But the other more important thing is that it would be a very, very grave mistake to allow wealthy people to somehow stake a claim to any part of space or space exploration or the intellectual property rights to any discoveries made as part of these missions.
    Why? The government is pretty good on basic research, but developing practical uses has always been best left to the private sector.
    And even in the Age of Exploration, the voyages were funded based on the hope of finding lucrative trade routes or new territories to settle and make use of. That's why for example the East India Company was founded.

    And if Blue Origin develops technologies that may be useful and profitable, why should it not be able to profit from it for the 25 years prescribed in the patent law? Other than envy of some posters here of course.

    In fact, I think Bezos is being too timid. With his wealth, plus some outside investors, he could really secure his place in the history books by building a permanent Lunar colony. I think it would be feasible to do it by 2040, complete with space port and a practical Lunar Shuttle system. And after that is done partner with a high end hotel chain like Four Seasons or Mövenpick to build a full service hotel as an annex, maybe by 2050.

    Of course you are way too young to remember the early days of NASA and the beginnings of space exploration but I'm not.
    True, I grew up in the age when NASA was but a shadow of its former self.

    Today, the world is filled with products and devices that directly arose from the space program. I don't want Jeff Bezos near any of the next waves of technology and innovation to arise. That belongs, by rights, to the world, not to any individual who has the ego and the pocketbook to grab even more for himself. It's obscene. And dangerous.
    If Bezos' company develops a technology, then, by rights, it belongs to it for a limited time. Just like any technology developed by any other company. That's the whole purpose of the patent law.
    You do not encourage innovation by saying, ok you invested money, hired great engineers, steered R&D in a particular direction etc. but that doesn't matter since all your base innovation are belong to us the government.

  6. Top | #16
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derec View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    It's a measure of what the world owes you. And nobody's done enough for the world to be owed a super yacht, or a private spacecraft.
    And then what, comrade? Expropriate the rich like they did in the glorious Soviet Union? How did that work out?
    Ah, yes. Everything that's not the exact system approved by twenty-first century libertarian leaning small-government Americans, is Marxist-Leninism as practiced by Joe Stalin in the 1930s.

    There are only those two possible ways of running an economy.

    It's amazing how easy everything becomes when you deliberately avoid learning about anything other than devotion to the current system, with the only alternative being damnation.

    I keep forgetting that US economics is just US Christianity with a funny hat.

  7. Top | #17
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    I don't really care about one-off hops into space either way. But if Bezos or Branson can make a sustainable business out of hauling millionaires to the edge of space, I'm all for it. Some of the money is going to be spent developing next generation ships and maybe extending to orbital flights or space hotels, which in turn creates more opportunities for something else like moon colonies or asteroid mining.

  8. Top | #18
    the baby-eater
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowy Man View Post
    Bezos is donating $200M to the Smithsonian, so it’s not like he’s only spending his fortune on himself. I don’t understand all the hate for these rocket flights. We don’t know who it will inspire or what technological advancements may come. What should he do, ride around the Mediterranean on a super yacht doing very unsavory things like some other super rich folks who have been in the news lately?
    No, he - like everyone else, shouldn't be super rich at all.

    Nobody has done enough in their lives to deserve such wealth. Nobody.

    OK, maybe Stanislav Petrov. Maybe. And he never got any wealth in return for his genuinely meritorious actions.

    Fuck them all. If you've got, let's say, 500x median income for your nation or more, you should pay 100% tax on all further income. We can hand out a trophy with "You won capitalism" on it or something. Maybe put up a statue of them for the pigeons to crap on. But nobody in the history of the world has done enough with their lives to earn more than $16M in today's dollars.
    Wealth, shown to scale
    https://mkorostoff.github.io/1-pixel-wealth/

    We can have a world in which wealthy people exist, without handing nearly all money to the super rich.
    A trillion dollars is such a large figure, that you might as well say "eleventy gajillion zillion dollars." So in this section, we will try to understand the scale of this figure by looking at what could be accomplished with various chunks of this wealth.

    Some will argue that using this wealth for public benefit is not possible, because it's "tied up" in stocks, and therefore inaccessible. This is just not true.


    As we proceed, try to keep in mind: all of this wealth is controlled by a group so small, that they could fit on a single 747 airplane—with 260 seats left over.
    If you scroll far enough, you get to some spending ideas, given the $3.2 trillion controlled by the 400 richest Americans:

    Still plenty of money for a billionaires' space race, even.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. Top | #19
    the baby-eater
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    The political philosophy of the US: as long as you don't break the law, you are welcome to accumulate unlimited power. It's the paradox of liberalism.

  10. Top | #20
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    I don't want them to explode.

    These are people who won in a corrupt authoritarian repressive system.

    I want parts of the system to explode.

    These billionaires dying wouldn't help with that.

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