Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

Mars has just been brought closer to Earth by Elon Musk

Spaceflight rendered new, exciting and attractive through a skillful marketing strategy that makes the Final Frontier the place many more of us want to go

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

889 Views

On February 6th, 2018, the US got back into the Space Race in a huge way. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy completed its first test flight, and it did so with a great deal of flair and skillful marketing of space travel, through the use of excellent media coverage, the expression of honest-to-goodness excitement by a company that is freely seeking to conquer the challenge of interplanetary travel and colonization, and a simple and attractive way to show the world what can be done.

This was most notably symbolized in the sending of a Tesla Roadster, Elon’s Musk’s own car, with a dummy in a SpaceX astronaut suit.  The Roadster is supplemented by many cameras that allowed viewers several hours of live viewing in real time as the Roadster left Earth for possibly billions of years, in an orbit reaching well past that of Mars.  The final touch was the message on the dash screen, speaking to an incredibly wide audience:

Starman gets a reassuring message for his very long journey.

As of 10:30 am (Greenwich Mean Time, or UTC) on Friday February 9, the Roadster was already 449,808 miles away from Earth, traveling away from Earth at a speed of 8,081 miles per hour.  For reference, this distance is nearly twice that between the Earth and the Moon.

By comparison, the flight of Apollo 11 took about as long to get only from the Earth to the Moon. The Roadster is in an orbit whose aphelion (farthest point) from the Sun is approximately 1.7 times the distance of the Earth from the Sun, and the perihelion (closest point) is about 0.99 of that same distance.  Put in miles, this is an orbit between 92 million miles and 158.1 million miles from the sun.

The ability of Elon Musk and his company SpaceX to make space travel relevant to the everyday person is what will propel this next chapter of the Space Race. We even have to redefine the term “Space Race” itself. It is no longer the rivalry between two systems of government, as was the case in the 1960’s heyday between the US and the USSR.

It is now the province of entrepreneurs, dreamers, who want to create and live the vision of a spacefaring human race. And, like anything else that has espoused great technological innovations or inventions, the success was not based on the viability of the science, but on how well this viability could engage the public interest.

The space program in all spacefaring nations started with the government-run programs of the United States and the Soviet Union.  The American program featured open source information as a civilian program, where the Soviet program was mostly classified during its run.

To date there have been only three spacefaring nations: The USA, the Russian Federation (like the Soviet Union before it), and the People’s Republic of China.  At this time, though, only China and Russia have crewed spaceflight.  The USA has been without its own launch vehicle since the cancellation of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.

US national interest in the manned space program was at its height during the decade of the 1960’s as the race to the Moon was on.  Starting with the first manned lunar flyby in 1968, American astronauts either flew to the moon or landed on it a total of nine times.

The first moon landing was broadcast worldwide, and indeed, caught the attention of the whole world.  However, the Apollo program rapidly lost public interest, hence public funding dried up and the program’s originally intended 25 missions was terminated with Apollo 17 in December 1972. Since then not only has Man not gone back to the Moon, a slowly building consensus has progressed saying that the Moon landings never happened. While most people still do not accept such a conspiracy theory, some characteristics that led to its birth were the bane of NASA’s existence, and helped lead to the cancellation of these and further interplanetary exploration:

  • Overemphasis on technical jargon – Listening to the discussion of spaceflight and orbital mechanics for many people is very tiresome. The success of Apollo was in the televised broadcasts that showed the astronauts doing things on the Moon, such as jumping, skipping while singing songs, four-wheeling and playing golf.  The work of setting up scientific experiments is of interest to the scientist, but Joe Q. Public is easily lost on such discussion.
  • Routine without marketing – While early missions in all the US manned programs were of high general interest, once the technology was proven, spaceflight became accepted as “routine.”  This is not a bad thing necessarily, because spaceflight should become routine.  However, what we really saw was nothing new or interesting, so it became “boring.” The US Space Shuttle program suffered the same fate, with news items only consisting of launches and landings in normal situations, and the terrible tragedies of Challenger and Columbia flights that ended in the loss of all the crew and their spacecrafts.
  • Government-led programs create a sense of inaccessibility – During the heyday of the Space Race, every young boy wanted to be an astronaut or a space explorer.  Star Trek was the TV program that outlined this vision in the most mainstream and attractive way, by showing that life in space was a life of adventure.  While every spaceflight is an adventure in its own way, it is far from the tales of exploring other worlds, and so again, appeal to do more is easily lost.To fly among the stars, one has either had to have a tremendous amount of money to pay a foreign agency, or one has to be trained within the auspices of a government program.  While NASA is civilian, the culture of the astronaut is not so.

As we can see, the issues surrounding the success of space travel are not technical, they are psychological and cultural. Space has never been really marketed as the place to be, the place to explore, and the place anyone can go to.

In the recent decade, private enterprise has begun to fill the gap that NASA created when they closed the Space Shuttle program. SpaceX, Bigelow Aerospace, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and other companies have all made attempts to raise public interest in the conquest of space, and the biggest selling point up to now has been the idea of the regular civilian being able to take a ride into space.

Virgin Galactic has held the lead in this thus far, but their program is suborbital and still in development.  Bigelow has successfully pioneered the idea of inflatable spacecraft in hopes of building a hotel resort in orbit, but the modules, although interesting, appear both boring and potentially dangerous to the psyche, as the notion of floating around in a balloon, which could be easily punctured at any time, is not attractive to most of us.

Oddly enough, one very attractive way to attract interest is through a bit of comedy. Rather than conceal failure in the SpaceX development program, Musk’s company has capitalized on failures as “part of the road to success” as in this video compilation of the development of the now-famous booster flyback and landing capability.

One can see then ,that there are very non-technical approaches for appealing to the psyche, and it appears the Elon Musk and his people have tapped into this for the first time. Sending one of the coolest ever cars into space, a Tesla Roadster, which in its own right is one amazing automobile, with a suited-up astronaut “driving” with the top down and arm on the window, with the Earth visible behind, all shown in full HD… now that is marketing!

The allure of space-set sci-fi movies like Star Wars and Star Trek, is not exactly where one is, though space makes a marvelous backdrop.  The allure is what we do there, how fast we can go, what good (or bad) we can do along the way. Human beings have creative spirits, and we want to do things when we go places.

Sometimes this has worked out poorly, but most of the time it seems to work out very well.  We take pride in the beauty of our cities, our architecture and art forms, we love beauty, style, and yes, in all this is the huge need for knowing how to do it. But the average person in an art museum appreciates fine art because it is beautiful. They are not technophiles into how the painting or artwork was made. They enjoy the result, beauty made accessible to them.  In the same manner space exploration can be – and has been made – appealing to the everyman in a way never done before.

It will be of great interest to see what – and who – does the next cool thing in space, and even more, what that action inspires.

Advertisement
Comments

Latest

It’s Official: ‘Britain’s Democracy Now At Risk’

It’s not just campaigners saying it any more: democracy is officially at risk, according to parliament’s own digital, culture, media and sport committee.

The Duran

Published

on

Via True Publica, authored by Jessica Garland – Electoral Reform Society:


Britain’s main campaign rules were drawn up in the late 1990s, before social media and online campaigning really existed. This has left the door wide open to disinformation, dodgy donations and foreign interference in elections.

There is a real need to close the loopholes when it comes to the online Wild West.

Yet in this year’s elections, it was legitimate voters who were asked to identify themselves, not those funnelling millions into political campaigns through trusts, or those spreading fake news.

The government trialled mandatory voter ID in five council areas in May. In these five pilot areas alone about 350 people were turned away from polling stations for not having their papers with them — and they didn’t return. In other words, they were denied their vote.

Yet last year, out of more than 45 million votes cast across the country, there were just 28 allegations of personation (pretending to be someone else at the polling station), the type of fraud voter ID is meant to tackle.

Despite the loss of 350 votes, the pilots were branded a success by the government. Yet the 28 allegations of fraud (and just one conviction) are considered such a dire threat that the government is willing to risk disenfranchising many more legitimate voters to try to address it. The numbers simply don’t add up.

Indeed, the fact-checking website FullFact noted that in the Gosport pilot, 0.4 per cent of voters did not vote because of ID issues. That’s a greater percentage than the winning margin in at least 14 constituencies in the last election. Putting up barriers to democratic engagement can have a big impact. In fact, it can swing an election.

In the run-up to the pilots, the Electoral Reform Society and other campaigners warned that the policy risked disenfranchising the most marginalised groups in society.

The Windrush scandal highlights exactly the sort of problems that introducing stricter forms of identity could cause: millions of people lack the required documentation. It’s one of the reasons why organisations such as the Runnymede Trust are concerned about these plans.

The Electoral Commission has now published a report on the ID trials, which concludes that “there is not yet enough evidence to fully address concerns” on this front.

The small number of pilots, and a lack of diversity, meant that sample sizes were too small to conclude anything about how the scheme would affect various demographic groups. Nor can the pilots tell us about the likely impact of voter ID in a general election, where the strain on polling staff would be far greater and a much broader cross-section of electors turns out to vote.

The Electoral Reform Society, alongside 22 organisations, campaigners and academics, has now called on the constitution minister to halt moves to impose this policy. The signatories span a huge cross-section of society, including representatives of groups that could be disproportionately impacted by voter ID, from Age UK to Liberty and from the British Youth Council to the Salvation Army and the LGBT Foundation.

Voters know what our democratic priorities should be: ensuring that elections are free from the influence of big donors. Having a secure electoral register. Providing balanced media coverage. Transparency online.

We may be little wiser as a result of the government’s voter ID trials. Yet we do know where the real dangers lie in our politics.

Continue Reading

Latest

Corrupt Robert Mueller’s despicable Paul Manafort trial nears end (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 79.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

Paul Manafort’s legal team rested its case on Tuesday without calling a single witness. This sets the stage for closing arguments before the judge hands the case to jurors for a verdict.

Manafort’s defense opted to call no witnesses, choosing instead to rely on the team’s cross-examination of government witnesses including a very devious Rick Gates, Manafort’s longtime deputy, and several accountants, bookkeepers and bankers who had financial dealings with Manafort.

Closing arguments are expected on Wednesday. Jurors may begin deliberating shortly after receiving their final instructions from judge Ellis.

Manafort case has nothing to do with Mueller’s ‘Trump-Russia collusion witch-hunt’ as the former DC lobbyist is accused of defrauding banks to secure loans and hiding overseas bank accounts and income from U.S. tax authorities.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied a defense motion to acquit Manafort on the charges because prosecutors hadn’t proved their case.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the circus trial of Trump’s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, and how crooked cop Robert Mueller is using all his power to lean on Manafort, so as to conjure up something illegal against US President Donald Trump.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via Zerohedge

Prosecutors allege he dodged taxes on millions of dollars made from his work for a Ukrainian political party, then lied to obtain bank loans when cash stopped flowing from the project.

The courtroom was sealed for around two hours Tuesday morning for an unknown reason, reopening around 11:30 a.m. with Manafort arriving around 10 minutes later.

The decision to rest their case without calling any witnesses follows a denial by Judge T.S. Ellis III to acquit Manafort after his lawyers tried to argue that the special counsel had failed to prove its case at the federal trial.

The court session began at approximately 11:45 a.m.:

“Good afternoon,” began defense attorney Richard Westling, who corrected himself and said, “Good morning.”

“I’m as surprised as you are,” Judge Ellis responded.

Ellis then heard brief argument from both sides on the defense’s motion for acquittal, focusing primarily on four counts related to Federal Savings Bank.

Federal Savings Bank was aware of the status of Paul Manafort’s finances,” Westling argued. “They came to the loans with an intent of doing business with Mr. Manafort.”

Prosecutor Uzo Asonye fired back, saying that that even if bank chairman Steve Calk overlooked Manafort’s financial woes, it would still be a crime to submit fraudulent documents to obtain the loans.

“Steve Calk is not the bank,” Asonye argued, adding that while Caulk may have “had a different motive” — a job with the Trump administration — “I’m not really sure there’s evidence he knew the documents were false.”

Ellis sided with prosecutors.

The defense makes a significant argument about materiality, but in the end, I think materiality is an issue for the jury,” he said, adding. “That is true for all the other counts… those are all jury issues.”

Once that exchange was over, Manafort’s team was afforded the opportunity to present their case, to which lead attorney Kevin Downing replied “The defense rests.

Ellis then began to question Manafort to ensure he was aware of the ramifications of that decision, to which the former Trump aide confirmed that he did not wish to take the witness stand.

Manafort, in a dark suit and white shirt, stood at the lectern from which his attorneys have questioned witnesses, staring up at the judge. Ellis told Manafort he had a right to testify, though if he chose not to, the judge would tell jurors to draw no inference from that. – WaPo

Ellis asked Manafort four questions – his amplified voice booming through the courtroom:

Had Manafort discussed the decision with his attorney?

“I have, your honor,” Manafort responded, his voice clear.

Was he satisfied with their advice?

“I am, your honor,” Manafort replied.

Had he decided whether he would testify?

“I have decided,” Manafort said.

“Do you wish to testify?” Ellis finally asked.

“No, sir,” Manafort responded.

And with that, Manafort returned to his seat.

Continue Reading

Latest

One more step toward COMPLETE de-dollarization

Over the past several months, sitting here in Moscow, it has become increasingly obvious that while the US Dollar is unquestionably the world’s leading and liquid reserve currency, it comes with an ever increasing high price (of sovereignty and FX) if you are not the USA.

Published

on

I have opined and written about the trend towards de-dollarization before, but with the latest US –Turkish spat it has hit the wallets, mattresses and markets of a number of countries, be they aligned with Washington or not. One thing they all have in common was that in this recent era of low cost available money, many happily fed at the US dollar trough.

Support The Duran – Browse our Shop >>

This serves as a further albeit loud example to many nations for the need to diversify to an extent away from the greenback, or risk being caught up in its volatile, sudden and unpredictably risky increasingly politicized directions.

The Dollar and the geopolitical winds from Washington are today as never before openly being used as policy, which can be called the “carrot and stick”, a distinctly Pavlovian approach. Sadly, few if any can make out where or what the carrot is in this recent US worldview branding.

Tariffs, sanctions, pressured exchange rates, the Federal Reserve loosening or tightening, trade agreements and laws ignored or simply trashed… there is a lot going on which seems to democratically affect America’s allies as well as those on Washington’s politically popular and dramatic “poo-poo” list.

Just now from a press conference in Turkey, I watched Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov say that through the actions shown by the US, the role of the US dollar as a secure global reserve currency for free trade will diminish as more countries switch to national currencies for international trade.

He clearly spoke for many nations when he said; “It will make more and more countries that are not even affected by US sanctions go away from the dollar and rely on more reliable, contractual partners in terms of currency use.” Putting the situation in a nutshell he went on to say “I have already said this about sanctions: they are illegal, they undermine all principles of global trade and principles approved by UN decisions, under which unilateral measures of economic duress are unlawful.”

Turkey, a long-standing NATO ally and a key line of western defense during the long cold war years fully agreed with his Russian counterpart. The Turkish foreign minister Mr. Cavosoglu openly warned that US sanctions or trade embargoes can and are being unilaterally imposed against any country at any time if they do not toe DC’s political line.

He said at the same press conference; “Today, sanctions are imposed on Turkey, and tomorrow they can be used against any other European state. If the United States wants to maintain respect in the international arena, then it is necessary for it to be respectful of the interests of other countries.”

What is happening in Turkey is symptomatic of the developed and emerging markets globally. When trillions of dollars of newly issued lucre was up for grabs, thanks to several developed country central banks, it was comparatively easy for governments and companies just like Turkey’s to borrow funds denominated in dollars and not their national currencies.

Turkey has relied on foreign-currency debt more than most EM’s. Corporate, financial and other debt denominated mostly in dollars, approximates close to 70% of it’s economy. Therefore as the Turkish lira plunges, it is very costly for those companies to repay their dollar-denominated loans, and even now it is patently clear many will not.

The concern rattling around the underbelly of the global markets is what can be reasonably expected for assets and economies that were inflated by cheap debt, the United States included. All this points not so much to a banking crisis as has happened eight years ago, but a systemic financial market crisis.

This is a new one, and I doubt if any QE, QT, NIRPs, or ZIRPs will make much of a difference, despite the rocket-high equity markets the US has been displaying.

One financial trader I spoke to, whom I have known since the early 1980’s (and I thought him ancient then) muttered to me “we’re gettin’ into the ecstasy stage, nothing but the high matters, everything else including the VIX is seen as boring denial, and not the warning tool it is. Better start loading up on gold.”

Meanwhile, de-dollarization is ongoing in Russia and is carefully studied by a host of countries, especially as the Russian government has not yet finished selling off US debt; it still has just a few billion to go. The Russian Finance Minister A. Siluanov said this past Sunday that Russia would continue decreasing holdings of Treasuries in response to sanctions.

The finance minister went on to say that, Russia is also considering distancing itself from using the US dollar for international trade, calling it an unreliable, conditional and hence risky tool for payments.

Between March and May this year, Russia’s US debt holdings were sold down by $81 billion, which is 84% of its total US debt holdings, and while I don’t know the current figure it is certain to be even less.

The latest round of tightening sanctions screws against Russia were imposed by the State Department under a chemical and biological warfare law and should be going into effect on August 22. This in spite of the fact that no proof was ever shown, not under any established national or international law, or with any of several global biochemical conventions, not even in the ever entertaining court of public opinion.

Whatever Russia may continue to do in its relationship with US debt or the dollar, the fact of the matter is that Russia is not a heavyweight in this particular financial arena, and the direct effects of Russia’s responses are negligible. However, the indirect effects are huge as they reflect what many countries (allied or unallied with the US) see as Washington’s overbearing and more than slightly unipolar trade and geopolitical advantage quests, be they Mexico, Canada, the EU, or anyone else on any hemisphere of this globe.

Some of the potential indirect effects over time may be a similar sell-off or even gradual reduction of US debt exposure from China or any one of several dozens of countries deciding to reduce their exposure to US debt by reducing their purchases and waiting for existing Treasuries to mature. In either case, the trend is there and is not going away anytime soon.

When Russia clears its books of US dollarized debt, then who will be next in actively diversifying their US debt risk? Then what might be the fate of the US Dollar, and what value then will be the international infusions to finance America’s continually growing debt, or fuel the funds needed for further market growth? Value and the energy of money has no politics, it ultimately trends towards areas where there is a secure business dynamic. That being said, looks like we are now and will be living through the most interesting of disruptive times.

Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Advertisement

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...

Advertisement
Advertisements

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement

Advertisements

The Duran Newsletter

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending