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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

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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.

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EU leaders dictate Brexit terms to Theresa May (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Via RT


Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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