Colonization Makes Us True: SpaceX Triumphs!

[OK, the word “colonization’ is… deliberately provocative (see below). Yet, there is none better, and it’s a major philosophical point! Deliberately provocative means, etymologically: entirely liberating inducement to vocalize…]


[NASA, United Launch Alliance, Arianespace, Soyuz, are finished as viable launch businesses… NASA’s SLS should be scraped right away..]

I Colonize, Therefore, I Have To Think:

Philosophy is a mood conducive to wisdom, that is truth. And truth consists in colonizing… space. Geographical, historical, psychological, physical, mathematical, spiritual, moral, cognitive space. “While the core mission of SpaceX is to establish a multi-planetary society”, says SpaceX. So in more sense than one, SpaceX mission longs for truth. (Be it only the truth of what led to an explosion!)

I know that the word and, even worse, the concept of colonization” is hated by the PC crowd, which replaces thinking with bellowing together in great hatred and agreement. Hatred for “colonization” makes the colonization of space sounds immoral, and bound to failure. However, colonization works: at least 99%, of the PC crowd consists in descendants of (the hated) colonizers. Including the descendants of Australian natives, who colonized Australia, 65,000 years ago. Yes, “colonization” means the entire Earth.

We are a colonizing species. That’s how and why, we had to grow ever more wisdom, to outsmart the obstructions to successful colonization. Colonization is not just what we do, but how we evolved, thus what created us: our ancestors left the safety of the trees, and conquered the savanna. That will to space colonization in turn changed their minds into what we call human. Colonizing new space  changed our ancestors into ever bolder, smarter, meaner forms, all made possible by an ever more encompassing love (to educate, compensate, and enable socialization).

Key to SpaceX strategy is re-usability of the hardware, which, itself, rests on reliability, making rocket operations similar to normal planes. Here one sees the two side boosters of Falcon Heavy landing simultaneously at the place they were launched from. Both had ALREADY been used in previous launches. Wow. The center core had to brake from much higher hypersonic speed, and ran out of starter fluid (!), so had only one engine lighted in the final braking and exploded next to its drone ship barge…

Discoveries as recent as 2018 showed that Homo Sapiens was all over the Africo-Eurasiatic supercontinent much earlier than had been pontificated, interbreeding with its northern variant, Neanderthals, for hundreds of thousands of years (in a triumph for my mathematical theory of Neanderthal evanescence, and pseudo-disappearance).

Creative thinking itself is a form of colonization: go somewhere with new insight(s), interbreed with the native ideas, or situation, generate new emotion, new mentalities. Philosophy itself, by definition, is an emotion. But not just that: the etymologically root of wise is knowing from seeing. Now once one has seen with one’s eyes, one sees with one’s mind. To keep on knowing, one will have to see again. Thus philosophy itself, by definition, the love of knowing from seeing, thus anew always, goes always beyond, more. Or as emperor Charles Quint put it (in French, his native language): “Plus Oultre!”. (Thus, yes, Elon Musk is doing what Charles Quint would have financed. Charles V ordered a stop to American colonization, only when it became clear it had brought a holocaust to amazing civilizations; there is no amazing civilization on Mars, yet, astoundingly cool ice cliffs…)

Falcon Heavy is made of three Falcon first stage strapped together. That’s a total of twenty-seven kerosene-oxygen engines, with a total power of 18 jumbo jets at take-off, together.. Sounds simple, but it’s not: the forces involved are enormous, and resonances can occur, especially when the vehicle becomes supersonic, so the strapping together is tricky.


SpaceX has succeeded to land first stage cores safely, and re-used six of them already;Re-usability is the way:

Conventional rocketry uses the rocket just once: launch and destroy. That’s expensive. Going to orbit, though, shouldn’t be that expensive. Launching 64 metric tons at eight kilometers per second, as Falcon Heavy does, requires a lot of energy, but not anymore than a jumbo jet going from Los Angeles to Sidney. So it shouldn’t cost more. As an Airbus A380 cost around 400 million dollars. If one destroyed the A380 at each landing, that would make the trip cost 400 millions. This is exactly what is happening now to space travel. (To see this intuitively, assume it takes 30 minutes for an A380 to reach 10 kilometer high, and Mach 1; then, after ten hours, it will have reached 200 kilometers high and Mach 20; orbital speed is actually Mach 25… Using sea level Machs, another approximation; but the rough picture is clear… and correct!)

NASA ill-fated “Space Launch System” is scheduled to cost around a billion dollar per flight. The sort of price the late and ridiculous Space Shuttle cost. The Space Shuttle had to be expensively refurbished, it was way too delicate. Plus it had gigantic, useless wings.  

I have been highly critical of the massive financing of SpaceX by NASA, under Obama. It seemed obvious to me that the US government shouldn’t finance a private space operator. However, it turns out that many great new technologies were financed by government. The French government financed the first (steam powered) cars in the Eighteenth Century. It was actually a military project, and those cars were to be employed like tanks. The first balloons with humans on board were also more or less a government project (LouisVXI had decreed that condemned criminals should be the first fliers, but the inventors forced him to change his mind; the first military usage was in 1794, by the French army, for observation). The first planes were also a French military project (Ader flew 50 meters in 1890, and at least 300 meters in 1897, in front of an entire military committee  at Satory; the flights are not homologated, the Americans say, because of French military secrecy… but the fact they were French is enough to explain why the flights of the Wright Brothers more than six years later, in 1903, are still viewed as the first… which they were not).

The nuclear bomb was also government project: started in France, January 1938, it got exiled to Britain in June 1940, and then moved to the USA and Canada in case the UK would fall to the Nazis (there was also more uranium in the US)

The jet engine, radar, rocketry, electronic computer, were all government projects. So was going to the moon. In a way, all university and education has always been governmental (except for the very rich). That was blatant in China, with the examination system. Emperor Trajan had set-up scholarships (paid by a wealth tax), and the Franks made free universal education mandatory in the Eighth Century (founding the European university system by the same token, although the name itself appeared only in the Twelfth Century). All the big imperial technological projects, in Rome,as under the Achaemenids, or various Chinese dynasties were governmental, but then private industry got free usage (the Grand Canal in China, a government project had more than at least 10,000 large private boats using it every day… for centuries).

So what did I miss? Government support is justified when there is no profit in the endeavor. However, cost of edge tech in space collapsed faster than I realize, greatly thanks to advancing electronics. NASA, United Launch Alliance, Arianespace, Soyuz, made the same mistake, as they all believed rockets couldn’t be re-used. Musk and Bezos, both engineers, saw the truth.

So what is the difference between SpaceX and NASA? SpaceX introduces elements of greed, glory, personal input that a government agency can’t: it’s Nixon, a lawyer by training, who picked the Space Shuttle as the US next space transportation system. Mr. Musk and Blue Origins’ Bezos are college trained engineers.  

In any case, SpaceX reusability bet worked. The French dominated Arianespace, which had a splendid run with Ariane V, a disposable rocket, and many others, including Russians and Chinese, let alone NASA, didn’t believe reusable rockets were feasible. I don’t see them recovering from that erroneous belief. Reusability will make SpaceX dirt cheap, and reliable.

Thus the Trump administration should force NASA should to give up on its ultra expensive and now completely obsolete Space Transportation System (STS): it can’t work, even if it works. And it has no contracts, just three NASA projects to nowhere. By contrast, Falcon Heavy has already contracts.

Moreover Space X is developing at breakneck speed its BFR (Big Fu*king Rocket), which will supersede its prior rockets (it says, although that’s dubious as smaller rockets are useful). The BFR uses methane: methane can be made on Mars, but not only, it is full of hydrogen atoms, without the inconveniences of hydrogen.


Rome We Remember, & Won’t Duplicate. Space Colonization, Here We Come, Brains Will Follow:

So what next? Mars is still very far, radiation-wise. The Moon is closer, and has giant lava tubes. Those tubes make natural bases, especially if they can be pressurized.

There are huge ice cliffs on Mars, by 55 degree north. If we scaled up considerably some technologies we already have in baby form, such as electric propulsion, nuclear reactors, robotics and cryogenics, we could probably seed humanity in the Trappist system within 500 years…

Some will whine:’what happened to humanism, what happened to philosophy, wisdom? The argument has been made that we have to spread the risk to humanity by spreading among the planets, or mining resources, or exporting pollution. The argument has also been made that the challenge of space forces us to develop new technology. The later is actually the strongest argument.

Civilization as we know it on Earth, going quickly towards ten billions, but with the capability of sustaining only a fraction of that, is doomed, one way or another. We can exit that situation in two ways: either do like the Maya, who had a dense highly successful civilization, which collided with a long drought combined with an ecological crisis, and soon generalized war, imploding the civilization, bringing back human flesh on the menu. Or we can exit the other way: smarter, higher, more refined, with much more needed technology.

The Romans failed to take that technological turn, although they had the cognitive means to do so. After Greco-Roman civilization collapsed, the Franks rebuilt their way, rejecting slavery, and thus embracing the more advanced technology Rome had refused to develop, precisely because Roman plutocracy wanted to keep the slaves, and the citizens it treated as slaves, occupied. (To some extent, the same happened with China, in a milder form; however, although invaded by the Mongols, and later the rather similar Manchu, Chinese population didn’t collapse, in no small reason because those enemies were half sinicized, and relatively much less numerous.)  

The main reason to develop space technology is that we are all living on a spaceship, Earth. Moreover, industrial technology, and exploding demographics, as they are, have been destroying that spaceship sustainability. So we need to develop new technology, new space technology, being already on a compromised spaceship. Going to other planets may look like a hyper expensive, gratuitous exercise. But it’s not. It’s an exercise in trying to save ourselves.   

Patrice Aymé

8 Responses to “Colonization Makes Us True: SpaceX Triumphs!”

  1. Gmax Says:

    Incendiary editorial in paper today by Caille Millner saying Musk is a “Bond Villain”, and we need “space exploration not colonization”. What say you?
    Also Tesla lost like 700 million in last quarter… So?


  2. Gloucon X Says:

    Gravity wells and radiation. I love the brutal honesty of science as presented in by this guy. Living outside of the Earth will not be like what is shown in the movies.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Very interesting, thanks for finding that. I am going to listen to it. Being a rock/mountain climber, I, and my friends were sometimes in Apollo 13 like situations, when logics and neurological has to be sole master and commander.
      Some preliminary observations:
      Lava tubes will mitigate the lack-of-magnetosphere problem.
      The movies the Martian assumes an impossible, ridiculous, counter-factual storm to launch the drama.

      Space colonization will be first done by robots, and then, later, individuals with “the right stuff”. OK, let me listen to the talk… I am curious to see if the doctor is as suspicious, fearful, leery as I am… SINGLE PLANET SPECIES DON’T SURVIVE: right…


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Excellent! Maybe I just make it the essay of the day (I had much more advanced stuff, but this is an important no-brainier)

      Going to Deimos is indeed a no-brainier. The real show stopper at this point is the PC hostility to nuclear. I have said it forever: can’t go to space, seriously, presently, without nuclear (Curiosity, the Voyagers, New Horizon are all nuclear powered). A nuclear thermal engine is safe, effective, and can run forever (just a matter of refueling it). I think they logged 4,000 hours on one in the 1960s (by contrast SpaceX has run only 1.200 on its experimental Raptor methane engine).

      Sending robotic missions to start digging in Deimos is indeed realistic. (BTW, last year the large NASA orbiter had to be moved out of the way of Phobos, with only a week heads up…)


  3. Patrice Ayme Says:

    To The Economist about why Falcon Heavy is important…
    Indeed: costs lowered by 90%…
    NASA’s SLS should be stopped (money redeployed on science missions, fast propulsion research). Arianespace is condemned…


  4. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to Ethan Siegel]
    Indeed. After being a harsh critique of SpaceX government funding under Obama (through NASA), I now have to recognize that I was wrong: it is hard to see how NASA’s Space Launch System (a modernized Saturn V) and Arianespace, let alone Soyuz, will be able to go on, as SpaceX, with reusability will crush the cost: it does not take more energy to go into orbit thatn operating a jumbo jet. The difference, so far, is that, for each orbital launch, the jumbo jet was thrown away (an A 3800 cost 400 million dollars).
    However, it will be easier to go to Deimos first, and operate robots on Mars’ surface from there… The little huts on Mars as depicted in Mars One brochures, are not going to happen, be it only because of cosmic radiation…


  5. Anti-Intellectualism Will Make Our Body Good? | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] financed device. But, well, it seems we have to learn to live with plutocrats in command. Even going to space now depends upon plutocrats (as governments dropped the space ball, in another deep conspiracy organized by their sponsors, […]


  6. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to ethan Siegel]

    NASA’s Space Launch System should be axed, and the money saved should given to scientific missions such as WFirst. Indeed SLS uses Shuttle Main Engines, made to be re-used, in a DISPOSABLE way, an insane expense (hence a billion dollar per launch of the SLS!) Meanwhile SpaceX has demonstrated re-usability (first stage, and now six million dollar fairing). I used to be against SpaceX, but now I recognize NASA should focus exclusively on science, and forget about what they have proven unable to do well for decades, namely launching stuff.


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