Space tourism isn’t just a fun trip.

Perhaps you were wondering like me. Jeff Bezos And “Star Trek” Actor William Shatner into space?

Wendy Whitman Cobb, a space political scientist for the Air Force, says yes. Our conversation challenged my thoughts on space projects like Bezos and Elon Musk. It’s about imagining a future far away from Earth.

“If you shoutmidlife crisis“Last year, Bezos touched the universe, or why Musk space X company attracted Too fistToday’s newsletter is for you.

Whitman Cobb with Ph.D. In political science, it has been said that tourism excursions are the first step in transforming space travel from the odd to the routine. And she believes that amateurs on track are the testing ground for worthy ambitions. Musk’s Envisioned Settlement on Marsor colonizing space to support more people and industries than is possible on Earth; as Bezos wants.

To me, it sounds like the escapist fantasy of billionaires. However, Whitman Cobb’s optimism is the regularity of this newsletter. warning that’s not the skill magic crystal to our problem. Whitman Cobb agrees, but says that in space exploration, technology has sometimes done magical things.

To rewind the past decade, companies like SpaceX, Bezos’ Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and New Zealand-based startup Rocket Lab Become a bigger player in spaceflight. Businesses have always worked with governments on space travel, but are now more involved in getting astronauts, hobbyists, satellites and cargo into space.

While there is debate about the proper roles of governments and businesses in space, Whitman Cobb believes these companies have made mechanical space work cheaper and easier. that Help NASA dream big In projects like tracking lunar colonies and exploring deep space.

SpaceX, Blue Origin and virgin galaxy He also led space cruises. It’s a fun ride for a few, but Whitman Cobb says it has helped hone in on the safety of space travel and sparked a passion for exploring beyond Earth.

“The more ‘normal’ people we see flying into space, the more the public will be excited to see this as possible,” she said. “Public opinion is at the heart of a lot of what these companies and the US government are doing in space.”

(Whitman Cobb said these views were hers and not the views of the US government that hired her. She also said she did not receive any funding from a commercial space company.)

But the ultimate goal is to go far beyond tourism. Musk and Bezos imagine moving people or pollute industry into space or Create a Martian civilization. i’m worried about it name Ignoring earthly problems.

Whitman Cobb understands why I asked if it was a reckless delusion, but she also doesn’t want us to miss out on the potential benefits of dreaming. She said the history of space exploration is bizarre and not necessarily highly thought-out visions are feasible and helpful.

In the 1960s, American lunar exploration was driven by a desire to prove American superiority over the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, nationalistic space missions have spurred the development of the increasingly smaller electronics we use every day, improved health technologies, and even gave us memory foam. The commercial spaceflight boom over the past decade has been Reduced space access cost Novel ideas like small satellites have made it possible to map the Earth from above.

Whitman Cobb said that advanced technology developed by commercial space companies for spaceflight could flow into other areas where it helps us.

A self-proclaimed space geek, she said that awe of the universe is a worthy goal. “It also stings humanity’s longing to explore, discover and understand the world around us,” she said.

I asked Whitman Cobb if he wanted to live on Mars. “Sure.” she replied “It may not be forever.”

I’m not letting go of all my doubts about rocket tourism or billionaire space fantasies. When corporations play a big role in the universe, they can stock up on inventions rather than benefit the public. Space tourism also harms the environment, and it’s unclear how much space travel and commerce would be worth. We know that even useful technologies have their downsides.

Whitman Cobb wants us to be skeptical with excitement. She said the history of space travel shows that selfish dreams can serve us all.

  • More Earthbound Musk News: He fell into hot water because of his tweet. Recently, Musk also bought a significant amount of Twitter stock. No one really knows what he is doing., reported by my colleagues Mike Isaac and Lauren Hirsch. twitter on tuesday Musk joins company board.

  • What Do Altruists Do With Crypto Fortunes? Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, is one of the richest people in the world and a believer in using scientific reasoning to do the best. Bloomberg News Tells about 30-year-old Bankman-Fried. “Should the person who wants to save the world first accumulate as much money and power as possible, or do they corrupt him in the pursuit of it?” (Registration may be required.)

    Related: Times Opinion colleague Ezra Klein interviewed video essay writer Dan Olson. Warn of the dangers of crypto ideology and culture.

  • How to properly recycle your gadget: It’s not uncommon for batteries in electronics to set off fires in landfills and recycling centers. Washington Post explained How to safely dispose of your gadget and battery. (Registration may be required.)

enjoy Breakfast with these piglets, pickles, winnies and dominoes.

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Space tourism isn’t just a fun trip.

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