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The billionaire race into space

Written By: - Date published: 8:06 am, July 12th, 2021 - 90 comments
Categories: capitalism, Economy, Environment, science, uncategorized - Tags:

There has been an unholy race by three billionaires, Richard Branson, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Tesla’s Eion Musk for bragging rights of who was the first billionaire to have a self propelled trip into space.

Branson has won although there will be a debate about where space begins and ends.

But it made me wonder how he could afford it because 12 months ago he was seeking a bail out from the Australian government.

Remember last year when Branson demanded a pay out from the Australian Government to keep his company afloat?

He even wrote to his staff that his airline needed Government support to survive.

From Radio New Zealand:

Sir Richard said in his letter to staff: “Many airlines around the world need government support and many have already received it.” The crisis facing airlines, and the staff they employ, was “unprecedented,” he said.

Despite his wealth, this did not mean he had “cash in a bank account ready to withdraw”. And he hit back at criticism that he was a tax exile who did not deserve help, saying he and his wife “did not leave Britain for tax reasons but for our love of the beautiful British Virgin Islands and in particular Necker Island”.

He said Necker would be offered as security for any loans. “As with other Virgin assets, our team will raise as much money against the island as possible to save as many jobs as possible around the group,” Sir Richard said.

And he lives in a tax haven and pays no personal tax despite his extraordinary wealth.

He is going to burn up fuel through the ozone layer during a climate crisis so that rich people can get their jollies at US$250,000 a trip.

And they say that the capitalist system produces the best results.

90 comments on “The billionaire race into space ”

  1. tc 1

    Pissing on the planet in a race with each other’s ego.

    Sums the human condition up really as it only takes a few to screw it for everyone.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    The approx 50 Squillionaires who according to various figures seem to own more wealth than half the rest of the population of Earth, obviously do not intend to share or voluntarily distribute more than token amounts of their pirates treasure.

    So instead of “putting them up against the wall” why not confiscate their loot, and mercifully banish the lot of them–Bezos inclusive–to Branson’s Island for life. They could be provided with basic accomodation and services, and a generous weekly stipend equivalent to say the minimum wage of their country of origin. Nothing like some quiet time for such self absorbed arseholes to reflect a little.

  3. I Feel Love 3

    If you want a giggle Google image Bezos rocket, explains it all really.


  4. Joe90 4


  5. Jenny how to get there 5

    Q: What do you call shooting billionaires into outer space?

    A: A good start.

  6. Jenny how to get there 6

    “Many airlines around the world need government support and many have already received it.”
    Richard Branson, as quoted by MS

    In the face of looming planetary climate disaster, this is almost as stupid as shooting moronic billionaires into space.

  7. Incognito 7

    I know, I know,

    Billionaire = bad

    Or perhaps not everything is rotten to the core and disastrous. For some balance and nuance and to stimulate the brain beyond reflexive patterns:


    • Poission 7.1

      and to stimulate the brain beyond reflexive patterns:

      High energy photons should suffice.


    • AB 7.2

      Yeah – some good stuff may come out of it. But it does seem like a circuitous route to any such benefits, and with no certainty that they will amount to much. Perhaps actually taxing Branson properly and funding targeted research directly might be better – plus it would have fewer environmental downsides and wouldn’t crank up the rage at the world’s idiocy and injustice another notch .

  8. Jenny how to get there 8

    ….There are manned missions to Mars and a return to the Moon being planned. Space hotels sitting in orbit like the International Space Station, are the next logical step up from fleeting space plane joyrides.


    The annoying details:


    Not least of all the annoying details of this wonderful future age of space tourism, is the prospect of not having a viable biosphere to return to.

    • Incognito 8.1

      And your point is?

      • Jenny how to get there 8.1.1

        My point?

        The world and the biosphere can no longer afford this sort of profligate conspicuous consumption, and pollution.
        (See 10 and 11)

        If you want these kind of dreams it’s Californication.

        • Jenny how to get there


          It’s understood that Hollywood
          Sells Californication…..

          Space may be the final frontier.
          But it’s made in a Hollywood basement…….

          And Alderaan’s not far away.
          It’s Californication


          • Incognito


            • Jenny how to get there


              Yes really

              The song is a critique of the escapist propaganda peddled by Hollywood. – If you want those kind of dreams it’s Cali-fornication. That some billionaires have the means to indulge these escapist fantasies is an obscene act akin to public fornication.

              • Incognito

                How delightfully Freudian 😀

                If I were you I’d cancel the subscription to Sky immediately and take up a soul soothing hobby like astrology.

                • Jenny how to get there

                  Neo-liberalism in space?

                  Why not, they have privatised everything else.

                  Donald Trump takes credit for billionaires in space.

                  Donald Trump takes credit for space race of billionaires Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk\
                  “I made it possible for them to do this. I actually said to my people: Let the private sector do it’


                  Incognito, I am against the privatisation of space.

                  Debate that if you want.

                  If you don’t like that message, don’t attack the messenger. It does you no credit.

                  “If I were you…..”

                  As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, because everyone else is taken”.

                  I gave up my Sky subscription more than ten years ago because it doesn’t have any educational or hard science documentaries or social commentary documentaris. Just lots of brain rotting pap about monster trucks posing as documentaries. (And their choice of movies is just as bad).

                  Just as well you are not me. You wouldn’t like it, because I consider astrology to be pseudo-science, much like I consider billionaire fantasies of escaping to space colonies and cities on Mars, (partly on the tax payers coin), to be pseudo-science.

                  Oh, and one more thing.

                  If you don’t like the message. How about this, instead of personal attacks on my character, try and tell me, (and others), where you think I am wrong.

                  • Jenny how to get there

                    Yes to Space Exploration. No to Space Capitalism.

                    On May 30, SpaceX finally launched astronauts into space more than two years behind schedule. President Donald Trump was on hand for the launch. After pushing for the militarization of space with the formation of the US Space Force, Trump fused his own vision with that of SpaceX founder Elon Musk, declaring, “We’ll soon be landing on Mars and we’ll soon have the greatest weapons ever imagined in history.”

                    Early in Trump’s presidency, Musk faced criticism for being part of the administration’s advisory council and refusing to step down even as Trump signed his signature Muslim ban. It was believed Musk was hoping to benefit from greater public subsidies, on top of the billions NASA gave to SpaceX,…..


                    “Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have a vision of space that serves the narrow interests of capitalists. But we don’t want to be indentured servants on a Martian colony — we want solar exploration that benefits humanity as a whole.”
                    PARIS MARX

                  • Incognito

                    So this is about railing against neo-liberalism, capitalism, privatisation, and billionaires more than anything else. How dull.

                    Helpfully, you managed to rope Trump into it too. Have you tried Stalin yet? Or the Chinese who are already building golf courses on Mars? Were you up in arms about Dennis Tito too? Thought not.

                    Privatisation = bad

                    NASA & ESA = good

                    And nothing shall come in between these, of course, because you must not taint the good, the pure, with the bad, or it will turn bad too. Obviously. Black is black, white is white.

                    I suggested astrology as a hobby but if you want to be more ‘scientific’, try growing crystals; very soothing watching them grow.

                    Half the time I have no idea what your ‘message’ is, as it feels more like another one of your many rants with YT clips of Miss Piggy in space, FFS.

                    Debate is not about being right or wrong and it is ironic that you think this way.

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                While following the telescopic analysis of the universe, and the exploration of ‘our’ solar system, has been thrilling, this recent ‘race’ by some uber-rich gents to go where others have gone before seems such a waste of space.

                They are developing systems and technologies to break us out of the cage of gravity and allow us to open this little backwater of a planet to the rest of the universe.

                Leaving aside the frankly troubling perspective that might lead one to describe planet Earth as “a little backwater“, if you believe in intelligent design, then maybe, just maybe, “the cage of gravity” is there for a reason.

                Personally I’m more involved in, and affected by, the efforts of a young thrush sifting through leaf litter at dusk outside my back door. You won’t see it reported anywhere, but I recognise deserved reward for honest effort when I see it – individual perceptions will vary, of course.

  9. UncookedSelachimorpha 9

    This Kim Hill interview was a good listen, Dan Price has some good ideas on the billionaire problem and solutions:

    Dan Price: the CEO who slashed his salary by $1 million

    It is a pity our current government is so utterly determined to ignore extreme inequality. It is the primary driver of poverty and child poverty but Ardern and co are quick to leap to the defence of the extremely wealthy (e.g. no wealth tax, no broad capital taxes).

    • Incognito 9.1

      They increased the top tax rate for the ‘extremely wealthy’ to 39%.

      They increased the fringe benefit tax from 49 to 63.39%, which applies the same people who are in the top tax bracket.

      They also increased the minimum wage and the amount beneficiaries were allowed to earn before their benefits were cut.

      They also increased the minimum number of paid sick days from 5 to 10.

      Of course, they are only governing for the ‘extremely wealthy’. Yeah, right.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 9.1.1

        …Graham Hart increased his wealth by $3.4b during Covid, roughly enough to fund a 10% pay increase for every nurse in NZ, for eight years. His wealth will be virtually untouched by the tax changes you mention.

        The minimum wage remains below the bare minimum needed to participate in society (i.e. the living wage).

        Benefit claw backs still mean beneficiaries face the highest effective tax rate of any sector of NZ society (albeit slightly less so, after the changes).

        So yeah, it’s right!

        • Incognito

          Are you serious? These ‘debates’ always become so dull so rapidly 🙁

          How much of Hart’s wealth could be taxed in NZ if there were a NZ Wealth Tax?

          Does this Government govern for the likes of Hart only?

          Is this Government “quick to leap to the defence of the extremely wealthy” such as Hart and the likes? If so, why would they do this?

          Do you think that WT or CGT would impact on middle NZ or just on “the extremely wealthy”?

          Nobody (yet) has argued (here) that the minimum wage increase is sufficient.

          Nobody (yet) has argued (here) that beneficiaries are now doing fine.

          If you read that into my comment then there’s little point in continuing this convo, which seems nothing more than a silly little rant that lacks substance.

  10. Jenny how to get there 10

    In the news, wealthy yacht owners wanting to build a marina near penguin nesting areas.

    Leaves me to wonder where celebrity billionaire space tourists will be wanting to build space ports.

  11. Jenny how to get there 11

    Space the final frontier, (for pollution)

    The ultimate in conspicuous consumption, the billionaire space race, may also become the ultimate high frontier of environmental destruction.


    The paper predicts that space travel might soon become impossible – or at very least, really dangerous.
    Space pollution
    Every time we launch a rocket, put a satellite into orbit around the Earth or decommission one that’s already orbiting, we leave behind bits of human-made material just floating around in space. Sometimes, satellites are literally exploded into thousands of pieces of debris when decommissioned.

    • Incognito 11.1

      It may or may not.

      Do you want to end all space exploration?

      Do you want to halt the launching and orbiting of all satellites?

      Where do you draw the line?

      What’s your point, make an argument for it, and ideally include how you’d achieve it.

      If you cannot avoid the dualistic approach, argue why you think that the ‘good’ does not outweigh the ‘bad’, in this context.

      If you must, do a ‘cost-benefit’ analysis, for example.

      Put some thought, effort, and analysis into it instead of posting an esoteric YouTube clip that is not really about space exploration as such.

  12. pat 12

    Space tourism….even more destructive, wasteful and pointless than terrestrial tourism.

  13. joe90 13

    Small consolation but at least the fuckers are stuck here with the rest of us.


    • I Feel Love 13.1

      I was looking for that. Basically, there will never be space tourism, space hotels, planetary trips. Never.

  14. Robert Guyton 14

    Misread the title: read, “rat” for “race”.

    My bad.

  15. McFlock 15

    A quarter million a trip?

    So house prices are now literally beyond “astronomical”.

  16. Anne 16

    What happened to that “Space Force” Trump set up?

  17. RP Mcmurphy 17

    this behaviour disgusts me. those two are like suarons men sent to destroy the shire out of spite and ignorance.

  18. Pete 18

    Just recently NZ kids were involved in 40 famine fundraising. Many did their darnedest to raise a few dollars from ordinary folk. Just struck me what a weird thing money is.

  19. Jenny how to get there 19

    Elon Musk’s Space X, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin are all public private partnerships, PPPs, that attract various direct and indirect government subsidies.
    More than any other public domain resource, the privatisation of space couldn’t be achieved without government partnership.


    Though we as taxpayers are partly subsidising the privatisation of space, is it good for us?

    How Does The Privatisation Of Space Affect You And Me?

    …..all the mumbo-jumbo aside, the bigger question is, how does the privatisation of space matter to you and me?

    …..In almost 63 years of space-age of Earth, we have sent thousands of missions into this ‘no man’s land’. Countries and organisations have received unmounted acclaim for the same, but there have also been repercussions. One problem that emerged because of space-age is- space junk or space debris. It is the waste accumulated in space due to spares of satellites, paints chips and human waste. Such material might not possess a threat in the current time, but with the increase in spaces missions because of private companies, this junk will soon be affecting us. As the number of satellites increase, the more chances of collision increase which can hurt astronauts. The last satellite to collide and be destroyed by space junk was in 2009.


    Space is a public resource, can we really afford to let it be littered with crap from millionaires and billionaires with massive egos?

    • Jenny how to get there 19.1

      Is ‘Space’, a public space for all of humanity, or a private space, for rich people to do what they like with?

      ‘Space graffiti’: astronomers angry over launch of fake star into sky

      Giant disco ball dubbed ‘Humanity Star’, launched by startup Rocket Lab, will interfere with scientific study of the universe, experts say


    • Incognito 19.2

      Space is a public resource, can we really afford to let it be littered with crap from idle billionaires with massive egos?

      I think you’re pissing in space with this one, which in due course could produce devastating chemtrails here in TS, but don’t let that spoil your accusatory and blaming rant.

      What is your solution? What is your point? What do you want to happen? Stop ranting and posting silly YT clips and make a decent argument and construct a robust narrative so that we can actually debate something with you.

      BTW, that YT clip was crap and no wonder it only has 750 likes and 114 dislikes.

  20. Jackel 20

    The Branson and Co rocket race, just the latest manifestation of the ongoing dance between the rich and the poor. Something intelligent, or at least literate, people will always find incomprehensible because it’s a different world.

  21. RedLogix 21

    All this hating on the very successful and wealthy is rather odd. Compared to our ancestors of a mere four or five generations ago – we’re all pretty much billionaires these days.

    • Peter chch 21.1

      At last! Some sense.

      When I grew up, the only electric appliances of any note were the washing machine and fridge. I remember my father taking the axe to the outside safe, so I guess the fridge must have come after I was born. Same with the coal range. I remember our first electric heater ffs. No phone. I was born 1962.

      Now, the average beneficiary, in my experience, has a TV, microwave, washing machine, a cell phone, usually Sky, certainly a computer in most cases, maybe a dryer, play station and a car (not always by any means I admit).

      But hell, let’s just whinge and whine and blame every ill on the nasty 1%. I always consider myself a socialist, but so many on TS and just hateists. They so passionately want to bring the self made down to the level of the self helpless, rather than raising the lowest up.

      • Descendant Of Smith 21.1.1

        Really that’s how you interpret the comments.

        In my lifetime I’ve seen us go from a fair and even handed economy with good support for the working class to an economy that has greatly increased the disparity of wealth through the deliberate removal of tax from the well off. That in my view has resulted in the massive increase in disparity more than anything.

        That freeing up of the tax liability from employers (give us tax cuts and we will increase wages they cried – but forgot to increase wages), from individuals through removing higher tax rates, tax on luxury items, death duties, transfer of income to trusts all resulted in massive gains in wealth for those at the top.

        That additional wealth was not generated through skill or expertise or their specialness but was generated through changing the tax settings.

        At the same time the loss of that revenue was used to justify user pays, GST, the sell-off of government assets and so on.

        Then what did the new found recipients of that increased wealth do with that money – they purchased the very assets that the governments sold, they bought rental properties and so on.

        This was then compounded by tax setting for housing interest being changed to help the very same people who had already benefited from the tax cuts and could take advantage of having increased capital, compounded by not investing in young people within NZ and massively increasing immigration to keep wages low and locals untrained, then even more so of a persistent and consistent sell-off of state housing (not just HNZ but MOW, Railway, police, education, forestry, etc housing as well), then by not supporting council housing e.g. not available to get accommodation supplement and forcing that to a large extent to be run-down or sold-off, then by extracting special; dividends from housing NZ (technically from the poor peoples rent) for years resulting in a lack of maintenance and rebuild, then by the removal of stamp duty.

        Everyone of these steps deliberate and planned to wrest back capitalist control.

        Clear stepped process to wind back the welfare state resulting in the return of slum landlords instead of quality state housing, the return of homelessness and the increase in poverty.

        Your wish to frame this as some tall poppy, wealth bashing malaise is just nonsense. The actions taken have been deliberately intended to achieve what we have now.

        Many including myself forecast in the 80’s we would get to this point. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s I was saying we’d got out of it better than I had hoped. Now all I can say is that it took longer than I thought it would to get here.

        The argument that someone on benefit has a washing machine and a TV is as spurious as saying before Europeans Maori lived in grass huts. It is a silly argument. Current technology is current technology. Besides if you want to be pedantic it is clearly not true of those living in cars and so on – there is barely room for themselves. Your fanciful notion that beneficiaries have sky, a computer and a car is just a nonsense parroting of right wing letters to the editor crap. I’ve paid peoples power bills just so they can have some electricity.

        You clearly have fallen into the individualist Randian self-made hero crap. The fact is that the societal settings have enabled the randian psychopathic tendency people in society to first accumulate savings through lower taxation, to the capitalise that wealth by buying assets and then to use those assets to exploit the poor to create more wealth for themselves.

        The shift from socialist type policy settings to capitalist ones would always produce this outcome.

        Planned, deliberate and intended.

  22. Sanctuary 22

    Richard Branson didn’t go into space.

    The Kármán line is the legally accepted boundary between the atmosphere and space, and it sits at 100km up. Branson’s little toy gives you a bit of weightlessness at an altitude of 86km. Thank you for your $360,000 and exit via the giftshop.

    This is important from a regulatory viewpoint, because it means legally Branson is merely operating an aeroplane with an extremely high ceiling rather than a spacecraft.

    Virgin Galactic is bullshit marketing spin peddled through a compliant and credulous media.

  23. vto 23

    That is a very unbalanced post Mickysavage… I get it that the ultra-rich have much to answer for, and don’t pay tax, and screw things left and right…

    but that certainly aint the full story..

    people like Branson and Musk are amazing people in what they achieve and I think this is a major step forward …. they are opening space up to the people…. sure only the ultra-rich at the moment… much like it was only the ultra-rich who could afford a car when they came on the scene, but look at that scene now…. lack of a car is almost considered poverty today… lack of a rocket may be the same in a few decades from now…

    so,, best park the ultra-rich-bad mantra to one side for this/these current events and instead celebrate it for what it is… a step in mankind’s story akin to the great walks out of africa..


    • RedLogix 23.1

      Unbalanced yes – but as a post it sure flushed out a whole lotta reflexive bullshit. The interesting question is this, is it the wealth of the uber-rich that is the problem, or the much lower wealth of much of the rest of humanity?

      In my view it is the gross inequality that is the problem, not the mere fact of wealth in itself. Or to put it more directly – what is the desired solution to being expressed by most people here? To impoverish the wealthy or to raise the poor?

      Because I’m reading a lot of lefties here who seem to be advocating for poverty as a good thing. And that’s just perverse.

      • vto 23.1.1

        yeah, most of the comments on this thread are simply a bad look for the left… all envy and hate… with no acknowledgement or knowledge of how people like Musk go about achieving these sort of next steps for humankind…

        regarding the rich-poor gap, it is without doubt the most dangerous aspect of humanity at the moment I think… let them eat cake and all that french revolutionary thing… history and repeats…

        … but I don’t see much stopping that rich-poor gap at the moment given it is all a result of the gargantuan system in place around the world and the inability to control, change or stop it, other than total collapse and rebuild i.e. revolution…

        I think with this space stepping if people can’t say something good about it then best say nothing as it is a poorly look to belittle such achievement… mickysavage..

        • Descendant Of Smith

          It is possible to both admire the technological achievement and disdain the pointlessness of it as well.

          • Incognito

            What is pointless about human achievement as a direct outcome of human imagination and curiosity? The debate should not limit these per se but be about the intended and unintended consequences of our collective achievements, i.e. the debate that almost nobody wants to have because it requires real effort, the debate that almost everybody wants to avoid because it doesn’t fit with their narrative. The debate should be about the good, the bad, and the ugly, because all three are inextricably interwoven with the human condition. Much easier to throw stones at a couple of rich pricks, isn’t it?

            • Descendant Of Smith

              Pretty sure I haven’t mentioned them at all in my comments. Not a single time. Feel free to re-read them.

              What is pointless about human achievement as a direct outcome of human imagination and curiosity?

              Must be the day for self-extrapolation of others argument. I’m sure there are occasions where it is perfectly fine.

              In my opinion this particular exercise i.e. to fly into weightlessness territory is pointless because it’s been done many times, we know clearly the impact of it and it is purely for self-gratification and entertainment purposes. Do I think that is pointless – yep. I think Marmite, mining diamonds, getting in psychics to solve crimes and horoscopes are pointless as well.

              The irony of you venting about fitting narratives – would have just been easier to ask me why I thought it was pointless before projecting motives onto me. You should understand that you don’t get to control the framing of other’s arguments and language as well.

              • Incognito

                You sound more like a nihilist to me. How’s that for self-extrapolation?

                Technological achievement = human achievement, and pointless, apparently. Wonderful!

                I don’t need to re-read your comments, but feel free to re-read them yourself and see how complimentary you are of “those at the top” and the first billionaire to have space sex, FFS.

                There’s more than one way to skin a cat. The irony of that seems lost on you.

                It is also pointless to have a conversation with you. Never mind.

                BTW, marmite (not the NZ one!) is not pointless, it is yummy and healthy.

  24. Ieuan 24

    Meanwhile, to those who don’t just mindlessly think that ‘billionaire = bad’, here is a more rational take:


  25. Jenny how to get there 25

    Reality apes the fantasy.


    R 2013, Sci-fi/Drama, 1h 49m

    ……humanity is sharply divided between two classes of people: The ultrarich live aboard a luxurious space station called Elysium, and the rest live a hardscrabble existence in Earth’s ruins.

    …….(Matt Damon) agrees to undertake a dangerous mission that could bring equality to the population.

    ….(Jodie Foster) vows to preserve the pampered lifestyle of Elysium’s citizens, no matter what the cost.


    • Incognito 25.1

      You know that dystopian worlds and societies are not by definition based off Earth, don’t you? Just asking, for a friend.

  26. Ad 26

    It is excellent that the super-rich transport billionaires are doing what the public sector started doing patchily in the 1960s and started doing badly in the 1980s.

    Space ventures are the right thing for billionaires to do. It’s been a market failure that it has taken so long. Also very useful that New Zealand technology can have a part in getting payloads up for smaller companies, not just the billionaires.

    The state should be focused on preparing binding multilateral structures for space living, taxing and regulating the bejesus out of those who use earth resources, and regulating transport and interplanetary travel. Public taxpayer money should remain here on earth supporting the sick and the poor.

    Billionaires should be encouraged to put their every effort into finding new and improved ways of living. The faster multinationals start mining moons and asteroids, not the earth, the better.


    • Descendant Of Smith 26.1

      Humans will never live in space.

      It is really far fetched to think that we will. It is an extremely dangerous enviornment to human life and simple things like physics means aspects such as conception and foetal growth are nigh on impossible.

      And mine what things – the vast majority of things on earth including minerals are the product of evolution – many do not exist elsewhere – they rely on chemical processes brought about through evolution.


      • Ad 26.1.1

        Greenland looked an unlikely mining opportunity until recently.

        Commentary on moon mining from 2020:

        “Geological surveys have previously shown than the Moon contains three crucial resources: water, helium-3, and rare earth metals. Water is vital for supporting life and agriculture in space and can be converted into rocket fuel to propel mankind further toward the stars, and helium-3 is a rare helium isotope that could be used for innovations in the energy sector – namely nuclear fusion. Rare earth metals are vital in emerging technologies, as well as the technologies we make use of every day, from smartphones and computers to medical equipment.”


        We have already had the start of multilateral accords on space in particular the moon signed last year:


        If mining in Antarctica stays banned indefinitely by the Protocol on Environmental Protection (the Madrid Protocol), the moon will start looking economic pretty soon. This important agreement came into force in January 1998. The 2048 expiry date of the Antarctic Treaty System will be important.

        • Andre

          All those things are useful on the moon if you’re trying to go further away from the earth. Because you won’t have to lift them up out of earth’s gravity well. But they’re just not rare or valuable enough to be worth mining in space to send back to earth.

          Launch costs to low earth orbit are still in the range of thousands of dollars per kg. Cost to send stuff back from the moon is likely to be orders of magnitude more. Even if it’s launched from the moon using fantasy technology like electromagnetic railguns, rather than rockets.

          The priciest rare earth at the moment is scandium, at about USD3500/kg, followed by neodymium at about USD350/kg. Hell, even platinum is only in the range of USD40,000/kg.

          I just don’t see mining in space to send materials back to earth making any kind of economic sense anytime in the next few centuries.

          • Ad

            I would not be quite so bold as to forecast the price of commodities that far out, and from that propose whether they are worth returning to earth. No one had much of a use for Lithium ten years ago, nor tried digital currencies much for trading commodities.

            Getting beyond our gravitational pull is the primary target of these current billionaires. By 2030 they will make it as ordinary as international flight has become over the last four decades.

            Then it’s a small step to a private sector space station, apropos 2001 A Space Odyssey.

            2001 A Space Odyssey

            After that we are on our way to private sector moon bases, and beyond. Without taxpayers being fleeced.

            • Descendant Of Smith

              Yeah, nah.Radiation, bone loss, lack of gravity, muscle loss………


              Every facet of baby-making in space is difficult.


              Still I guess I can see the next set of headlines

              “multi-billionaire first to have sex in space”.

              That will be a much longer living claim to fame.

            • Phil

              I would not be quite so bold as to forecast the price of commodities that far out, and from that propose whether they are worth returning to earth.

              The price of the commodity is not the relevant point here. What’s important is that it will never be cheaper and more cost effective to mine an asteroid or moon then return its contents to earth, than it will be to mine a deposit here on earth or recover/recycle from old products.

              • lprent

                I wouldn’t say that. The moon yes. It has a gravity hole of a sixth earth gravity.

                Most of that economic presumptions only apply when you are carting around bodies of imbibing and excreting blobs of water (with a few trace elements) – ie humans.

                I’d go for robotic prospecting and mining without any direct humans from machines. Machines that build their progeny in orbit from some of the materials slung to earth orbit and before it goes down the gravity hole.

                Of course we don’t have the kind of software that would do that now. I’m pretty sure that kind of software is possible eventually. But the energy and the materials are available outside of gravity holes. Machines don’t notice time that way that humans do in things like the bodies or their food supplies.

                It gets cost effective if you’re after long-term sustained returns.

  27. Byd0nz 27

    All the above demonstrates, what a vile entity money based systems are, they waste world resources on overproducing with no scientific planing, they pproduce rich individuals who gain their wealth through corruption, they spend that ill gotten gain by starting colour revolutions against countries who they dont agree with, Cuba being the latest in the gun sight. Money systems are primitive and doomed to failure. Come the day of the young, who will shake off this money crap and create a World without Money.

    • Ad 27.1

      Best of luck with that. We’ve had a history of debt for over 9,000 years.

    • greywarshark 27.2

      If we don’t get onto what you outline BydOnz we will lose any initiative we now have and it will be like some ghastly movie . Blade Runner made in 1982 is supposed to be showing 2019. Fascinating to watch, but because we get fascinated with things we imagine, it could have elements that become reality before we recognise what is happening.

      • Byd0nz 27.2.1

        True what you say. But reality right now shows us that global warming is happening, yet we continue on our polluting way, however the future will always belong to the young and thankfully the young are becoming more aware of that and are making their voice heard and along with good technology they may well make a huge leap forward and ditch money for a more inclusive world order.

  28. Robert Guyton 28

    So, we’ve pissed Gaia off sufficiently that She’s preparing to wallop us back to the Stone Age, but despite that, we’re planning to scrape stuff off her sister Luna’s face, for our own gain, risking irritating Her as well?

    What could go wrong?


  29. Jenny how to get there 29

    We all know the neo-liberal propaganda;

    'The private sector can do it better and quicker and cheaper than the public sector'.

    The profit motive is held up as the whip to achieve all these outcomes.
    That is despite these profit driven private businesses clipping the ticket between the taxpayer and the workers delivering these services.

    Yeah right

    Despite all the hype, as in every other privatised state enterprise. And despite $billions in tax payer subsidies, the reality of the privatised space program has again proved these claims for the greater efficiency of the private sector to be a self serving lie.

    NASA attacks Elon Musk and SpaceX for ‘years of delays’ failing to deliver for US taxpayer

    …..Back in 2014, SpaceX was awarded a multi-billion dollar contract by NASA to build a spacecraft which would take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX, which was awarded the contract alongside Boeing, was meant to be ferrying ISS crew by now,…

    …..As a result, NASA has continued to rely on Russia’s Soyuz rocket to take American astronauts to the ISS.

    NASA is unhappy that Mr Musk and SpaceX have no unveiled the Starship rocket, while promises have been unfulfilled with the space agency….

    “NASA expects to see the same level of enthusiasm focused on the investments of the American taxpayer. It’s time to deliver.”


    Beyond all the hype, as many commenters here have noted, Richard Branson's 'space flight' didn't even make it into orbit.

    Yuri Gagarin circled the earth 60 years ago.
    Today, despite all the $billions of tax dollars shoveled at these private space companies they still haven't matched this feat.

    • Incognito 29.1

      … , as many commenters here have noted, …

      Given that you’re prone to exaggeration and getting things wrong, how many exactly? Did you count them all? Or did you lose count at 1? Just give us the ballpark figure, if you have it handy, somewhere …

      • Jenny how to get there 29.1.1

        You are absolutely right. My bad. That should have been 'some commentators have already mentioned'.blush

        I was trying to give a nod to those who have already noted the fact the Branson actually did not make it in to orbit.

        My appologies, for this momentary lapse in accuracy.

        Thank you for picking up this detail. However, I don’t think my minor error of judgement affects the accuracy of the facts.

        But please let me know if you find any more errors.

        Cheers J.

        P.S. If you think I am prone to exageration what do you think of Richard Branson’s claim that he went into space?

        • Incognito

          However, I don’t think my minor error of judgement affects the accuracy of the facts.


          So, now “many” has become “some”? As usual, you’re vague, imprecise, evasive, and unreliable. Don’t worry, debate is all about feelz, vibez, and perceptionz; facts don’t matter, half-accuracies are close enough, and opinions trump everything.

        • Incognito

          Richard Branson does not comment here, yet, AFAIK.

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