The Great SpaceX Starship: Getting to space isn’t the problem, the limits of human understanding is

This is exactly why I keep doing all these articles about Star Wars, because I see an obvious bridge from a long drawn out past that follows a Vico Cycle of perpetual social ebbs and flows, or a future of aggressive growth where mankind becomes an interplanetary species perhaps for the first time in our long history. It’s not that we aren’t intelligent enough to perform the task, we are, and Elon Musk’s announcement over the weekend about the new SpaceX Starship that he intends to see put into service within six months is a testament to it. The technology is there, the engineering is there, the supply chains are there and ready to build those beautiful Raptor engines. We have an American president who get’s it regarding space travel and the possibilities. What’s missing is public support who still think that governments are the only way to get to space.

I was just a little stunned watching the Elon Musk presentation of his stainless steel Starship, which reminds me so much of many rockets from the early days of science fiction. And as I have said on many occasions, there are a lot of very smart people who become engineers so that they can have essentially a real Star Wars society. And that was the big picture stuff that Elon Musk was talking about, not just one Starship but many that will launch into space with the ability to carry over 100 passengers and meet up with a fuel tanker in orbit then carry on to Mars and bases on the Moon routinely, like buses heading to a downtown location. We’re not talking about years from now, we’re talking about 2020.

That is our future and the best hope we have to communicating those new challenges to our society is with various big picture science fiction concepts, because what we think in our imaginations is what we ultimately design in our society. Who says we have to have a bunch of barely hanging on villages on Mars. We should be able to live in luxury in those destinations because these Starships by SpaceX can continuously bring supplies to and from the various planets that we are going to settle. And as that becomes a reality there will be a real challenge to our political and religious systems in how to deal with those new challenges. How do humans hold themselves together when they are no longer tethered to earth? For many people, that is the most terrifying thing in the world, not just in our political class, but in those who cleave to the earth like a frightened child cleaves to their mother.

I would argue that only philosophy can do such a thing and with that challenge, Star Wars has the best chance of offering the proper thoughts of how to adjust to that changing reality. In many ways I would give science fiction credit for putting Elon Musk in position to take his billions of dollars and put them to good use the way he is now, and giving him engineers who are passionate about solving the many problems that are involved in space travel. A lot of people aren’t ready intellectually for this step, and that is the biggest challenge, its not the technology.

Life on Mars and on the Moon will very much be like what we are experiencing on the outposts covered in Star Wars stories such as the Mos Eisley Spaceport or the Black Spire Outpost at Disney World. It’s a real taste of the kind of jobs and lifestyles that will evolve out of the next great human push into space where cultures of many different origins combine for the needs of the moment driven by the speed of imagination, not governments. It’s a very new kind of problem, and a good one. We have the intellectual tools, and the newer generations are thinking fast enough to deal with them. But the older ones who still look at the Apollo missions with reverence and consider those attempts the limits to what is possible, they are going to have a tough time. For instance, who will own these outposts, what government will exist? Will there be churches in space, will people still want to follow the religious figures that evolved out of the Middle East here on earth or will Luke Skywalker and Yoda become the new way of looking at universal physics and the context of immortality?

SpaceX has nearly taken away the discomfort and distress of deep space travel with this Starship design and with an abundance of these craft traveling back and forth between Mars and the Moon our civilization will advance at an alarming fast rate over the next several decades. And that is very exciting. Seeing this Starship reminds me of the chrome vehicles that were featured in the Star Wars prequals. Who says space has to be dirty, and grungy where mankind is barely making it from one place to another? Why can’t we get to and from these long-distance destinations in style and with slick stainless-steel fuselages? Once it becomes easy to go to the Moon and to Mars and there are nice hotels in those places to facilitate the travel the human race will be open for a new level of business and we need to embrace that need now.

As there has been a lot of talk lately about socialism, obviously that will have no place in space. We want people to get rich in settling space and establishing outposts in far flung places so that we can all enjoy exposure to those discoveries, because it is capitalism that fuels such enterprises just like rocket fuel will take us to these new planets. Once we get there we need to make it so that people can make all the money they can, because that is the incentive of coming out of our comfort zones for deep space travel and settlement.

To arrive at that place we need intellectual tools, not just of science, but of philosophy. That is where the real challenge is, people will have to accept these changes and they’ll need some means of art and entertainment to introduce their minds to this new reality. Just as science fiction obviously has shaped the design of the SpaceX Starship the kind of society that will be built around this fabulous technology will need incentives for growth, and that reality is that people work best when they are not hindered by government or oppressive regimes to explore and enrich themselves to no end. It’s all very exciting, its all coming together very nicely. I am as frustrated as anybody at the pace of change that the human race seems inclined to. The technology is no longer the gating item, it’s the kinds of things that people think that are. And that will have to be the thing that changes next. I personally enjoy big concepts and its clear that the human race will migrate in this direction eventually anyway. But I’d like to see it sooner than later, if only we can get there before 2030 instead of taking another 30 years of dipping our feet in the water only to arrive on those planets anyway. Why not now? The Starship is ready to fly. People need to get their minds ready to fly with it.

Rich Hoffman
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