When science fiction attempts to get serious about how to best represent the human colonisation of the solar system, films like Ad Astra (2019) establish free enterprise as the plot devises for the story. With commercial flights to the moon, a Luna base that looks like an airport on Earth, fast food facilities, piracy, and private space laboratories…
…The future of space travel is business.
No human society is going to get off-Earth and colonise the solar system without a powerful driver propelling it. Scientific curiosity can raise billions of dollars to send robots out there to learn things, but inducement is a far greater and more effective driver known to mankind. I’m not talking about a business proposal that sends humans to Mars for a reality TV program, space-faring humans require more of a legal framework, or better, the lack of one, to get it going.
Mez watched the Windslipper 4 disappear from the Command screens. The data streams ended abruptly with millions of zeros trailing each other homogeneously. The humans and mimicrons gasped but their horror didn’t last long. The Jovian Commission’s Fusionjet Program had already gobbled up hundreds of mimicron pilots and eighty-two human explorers. Mez guessed they had grown accustomed to the fatalities. What they weren’t used to was the price tag for this particular launch. Tacacorp, a quasi-government outfit that operated Callisto, was seeking to gain the commission’s contract and had sunk a lot of development into their Windslipper Project.
This deficiency in empathy didn’t stop Mez from feeling sadness over Natan VanWehl’s fate, a one-time colleague at the Goliath Project, a friend, and a human.
“Why do humans do this when we have mimicrons?” Mez had asked him once.
It’s really hard not to facepalm when confronted by headlines stating that 100,000 have signed up for a one-way trip to Mars. A Dutch, non-profit (yes, that’s right, non-profit) company called Mars One is collecting human specimens, and raising six billion dollars, to send these people some 225 million kilometres, one way, to the planet Mars.
They call it colonization. They market it as a “stepping stone in human galactic expansion.”