Late Night Happy Fantasies Open Thread: To the MOON, and BEYOND!

If you have a spare billion lying around, why *not* make a bet that in five years (or ten, whenever, ya skeptic) you’ll be in a position to be the very first space tourist? And if you can afford that bet, why not bring your own hand-picked entourage of professional artists to write up your adventures? Like Marco Polo, but without the nasty medieval bits!…

SpaceX said Monday night that it would send Yusaku Maezawa, a billionaire entrepreneur from Japan, on a trip around the moon in 2023 aboard the company’s yet-to-be-built rocket. And Maezawa won’t be flying alone. Joining him will be six to eight artists, chosen from a pool of painters, photographers, musicians, film directors, fashion designers, and architects from around the world.

“Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon,” Maezawa said. “This is my lifelong dream.”…

Maezawa and his fellow passengers will fly on the BFR, a massive launch vehicle capable of carrying several passengers, which SpaceX hopes will someday carry people to Mars. (Some SpaceX officials refer to the BFR as the Big Falcon Rocket; Musk has sometimes switched out Falcon with an expletive.) The BFR, which Musk first described in 2016, is still under development…

Maezawa is the founder of Zozotown, Japan’s largest online fashion mall. His net worth is $2.9 billion, according to Forbes. He is an avid art collector, and in 2016 he spent $80 million on paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Pablo Picasso, two artists he cited as inspirations during Monday’s event.

Maezawa declined to say how much the BFR ride will cost him, but Musk added, “It’s going to be free for the artists.”…

Would’ve been a happier event, at least for Zozotown’s publicity department, if the SpaceX CEO hadn’t just been cited in a defamation case on the very same day. But that coincidence did lead to one of the best PopeHat openers ever…

Repub Grifters Gonna Grift… To Infinity, and Beyond!

Should’ve known there was more to Lord Smallgloves’ sudden emotional investment in SPACE! FARCE! than selling a few branded tchotches. Per the LA Times:

The concept had been pushed unsuccessfully since 2016 by a small group of current and former government officials, some with deep financial ties to the aerospace industry, who see creation of the sixth military service as a surefire way to hike Pentagon spending on satellite and other space systems.

Still, when Trump abruptly embraced the idea at Miramar — and began promoting it to wild applause at other rallies — a moribund notion opposed by much of the Pentagon hierarchy and senior members of the Senate became a real possibility.

A few days after the San Diego speech, Trump took a phone call at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida from Rep. Mike D. Rogers, an Alabama Republican who is chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces. He had been promoting the space force to Trump and his advisors for months.

“This is something we have to do,” Rogers said he told Trump. “It’s a national security imperative.”

“I’m all in,” Trump replied, according to Rogers. “We are going to have a space force.”…

Last summer, Rogers and Cooper inserted an amendment in the annual defense policy bill to create a separate service they called the space corps. It would be part of the Air Force, just as the Marine Corps is technically in the Navy.

But Rogers worried that putting it in the Air Force might not fly. The Air Force is dominated by fliers more interested in warplanes than in outer space, he noted in a speech last year, explaining Air Force opposition to a separate service…

Rogers, who was first elected to Congress by a razor-thin margin in 2002, has solidified control of his rural district, with a campaign war chest swelled with money from the aerospace industry. Defense industry firms have contributed $395,000 to his campaign committee and leadership PAC since 2017, becoming by far his largest industry donor, according to Open Secrets, a campaign spending database.
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Late Night Mockery Open Thread: SPACE. FARCE.

I was pleased that, on its national segment Thursday evening, ABC News made it clear that Trump’s new! improved! separate but equal! (yes, he said that) Space Force was (a) impossible without an act of Congress; and (b) intended, for the moment, to sell logo-branded gear to Trump supporters. Can’t stop the Grifter-in-Chief from fleecing his deplorables, but at least we stop pretending it’s anything but a short-term distraction…

WARNING: If you don’t ‘get’ this last one, here is the Urban Dictionary definition you need. For the sake of your nightmares, do *not* google the word itself!

Another SpaceX Launch

Launch is at 12:29 am, enjoy!



Saturday Morning Sci-Fi Open Thread: Mars Needs Believers!

Even as a very young hardcore sf reader, I knew I would never be part of a one-way space mission, because I can barely stand to spend a long weekend trapped in the house with a handful of people I love, much less a bunch of random strangers. (And, yes, I did not rate my chances of appealing to a quorum of those strangers, either.) But Murphy the Trickster God bless the… idealists… who are willing to share their dreams of Martian colonization with all the world and the Boston Globe:

When the initial tingle had passed and the idea had been given time to marinate and settle, Peter Degen-Portnoy said his family split into camps regarding his decision to commit to a one-way trip to Mars.

His sons think it’s cool.

His two oldest daughters stopped speaking with him.

And his wife left him.

Three years ago, Degen-Portnoy, a 54-year-old father of five from Stoneham, was one of 100 semifinalists chosen for Mars One, a wildly ambitious Dutch-led project that ultimately seeks to colonize Mars, beginning in 2032, with 20 permanent, never-to-return-to-Earth settlers. The plan has been controversial from the moment it was announced in 2012, with serious questions about the technological feasibility, as well as the plan to fund much of the mission.

Mars One organizers say the project can be accomplished for roughly $6 billion; critics say that is preposterous, as is the plan to raise much of that through corporate sponsorship and the sale of television rights.

The mission is currently far, far away from becoming a reality — millions of miles and millions of questions remain about how they will get there, how they will survive on Mars and build a self-sustaining colony, and of course how they will survive the trip. The current plan involves sending supplies ahead, then sending crews of four crammed into spaceships the size of a tour bus for the 18-month journey. When solar flares erupt, they will retreat into a bathroom-sized pod, surrounded by water for protection, for several claustrophobic days at a time.

While space experts and keyboard cowboys continue their debate, Degen-Portnoy and the three other semifinalists from Massachusetts have been dealing with the very real impact on their personal lives that comes when you make a commitment to a one-way trip to outer space.

For whether they go to Mars or not, “the 100,” as they call themselves, are the first humans to actually experience the terrestrial repercussions of making such an extravagant extraterrestrial commitment…

But there’s also a love story! Much more at the link — along with a full-sized version of the video clip at the top.