What does it mean to be cornball for outer space? Outer space allegedly amendment images of the future and the beyond, hence its aboveboard colonial fantasy nickname?—?the final frontier. Yet proposed travel to outer space these days is a backward-looking endeavor. The angel of history has become an astronaut.

In 2018, Donald Trump’s proposals for a U.S. Space Force are a redux of Reagan era “Star Wars” and its vision of all-knowing aggressive might. Space entrepreneurs evoke a allegorical heyday of dizzying growth from the wild, able west.

I too am cornball for outer space, but for one that never existed in my time, before white men with lots of money or state power (or both) were the only way off the planet. And I am cornball for the afire optimism-of-the-will-and-spirit accomplished by spooky baby and sad(ly) federal agent Fox Mulder, who said?—?and I repeat?—?“I want to believe.”

I want to accept that there is a way to think about space differently. The conflation of space and outer space is advised here: outer space is the place for us to think about the relationships and organizations of our lives here, on Earth, such that they might be airy out there.

The abstract might be a assiduous genre of accepted absorption in part because we intuit that the shape of our world, and now the shape of outer space, are formed from the speculations of banking capital. But adjoin the chicane of banks and corporations, there have been other ways to brainstorm the future. The pictures we have been given of outer space and of who gets to go there are not the ones we have to accept.


On September 17, 2018, Elon Musk tweeted a picture of himself in black pants, a black T-shirt, and black boots, posing in front of the American flag-adorned Falcon Rocket 9. He must think that he looks really cool (a belief so many people allow him in). In the photo, perched on Musk’s amateur is Yusaku Maezawa, a man who made millions as the CEO of the online banker Zozotown and garnered all-embracing absorption for spending the most money ever?—?$110.5 million?—?for an American artist’s work at auction, an untitled Basquiat painting from 1982. In Musk’s tweet, Maezawa is also dressed in billionaire basic style (normcore taken up a few tax brackets).

His top of choice is, predictably, a Basquiat tee. Musk hoists them both up, the Japanese billionaire and the Basquiat shirt, as ambassadors for his space colonization company, SpaceX. Maezawa, who may be spending up to $250 actor for the tickets, will be the first noncombatant sent beyond low Earth orbit; he and the SpaceX Big Falcon Rocket crew will be the first humans to make the chance since 1972. One billionaire on the amateur of another, their smiles glowing, their arms outstretched, their bodies linked like a human caterpillar of capital. This is the ladder to the moon.

Musk’s first luxury lunar cruise is set to embark in 2023. In the meantime, Maezawa will be accumulating his entourage. At Musk’s TED Talk-style press appointment in September, 2018, Maezawa stated his ambition to travel with a group of “top artists” alive in sculpture, painting, architecture, photography, music, and appearance design. Casting tech aggregation announcements as lectures is one way these businessmen appearance themselves as anticipation leaders.

And Maezawa does have big ideas for the journey, which has about become a agent for his art world aspirations: earthbound backer as lunar curator. The website for the proposed art project, #dearMoon, proffers the usual clichés of imagination, wonder, and awe that outer space is declared to invoke. Maezawa believes that once artists see the moon, their art (and after the world) will be always afflicted by the vision made accessible by chance capitalism. The art bubble and the space boom have been brought together, two advantageous mills whose egoistic bounds rarely crawl down to artful or actual change.

What is most aggressive about the activity is not the world-changing vision that it most likely will not absolve but, rather, the amalgamation of art, space, and tourism. The lunar tourism industry banks on the abiding appeal of visiting allegedly uninhabited, aboriginal geographies.

While anomaly once appropriate a accomplishments of native peoples, the lunar cruise ratchets up the abreast of abyssal ships and promises a able frontier, one emptied of any pesky human life?—?except those who can pay to visit. Richard Branson (worth $5.1 billion) is affairs tickets to “amateur astronauts” for $250,000 each, though when they will be able to use those tickets charcoal unclear. Jeff Bezos, who is worth more than 30 times what Branson is, spends a billion dollars a year on his own Blue Origin program, which aims not only to put people in space but also to send all their stuff with them. (Those Amazon commitment drones were just the beginning.) These alleged antecedents do not desire an empty borderland so much as one yet to be tapped by ambitious capital.

Spaceport America, located, auspiciously, alfresco Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, operates similarly. Ostensibly the world’s first purpose-built bartering spaceport, where Branson and Musk can tinker with their rockets, the adeptness is better declared as an empty day-tripper allure meant to absorb the broadcast visitors with dreams of space living. But this port in the middle of the desert is as close as most of those people will ever get to space.

Despite all the babble about our looming cosmic escape?—?convenient during these times of ever-escalating all-embracing catastrophe?—?space travel, let alone colonization, may only be made accessible by the megarich. Right now, even billionaires like Maezawa can’t afford to live there. They can only access a more acute vacation acquaintance from behind a rocket window. Musk might have half-convinced himself that he will see Mars colonization in his lifetime?—?he absolutely sees himself as an (if not the) engine of the abstruse future?—?but below that lofty allegorical star is the base drive for profit. Elon Musk is a tool. And he is making outer space a luxury brand.

Not absolutely unlike the way that collectors transform art altar into must-have abode decor, Musk and his ilk are distorting our compassionate of outer space as an alien ecosystem into article simply apprehension human consumption. Tourists often abort the places they visit en masse, because it’s not the places they care about so much as the acquaintance of being in them. And a large part of that acquaintance is the affiance of accessing the out-of-reach, of having the power to bisect boundaries and then return again to the safely adapted and acceptable places of origin. All of the chance of this frontier-hopping is fueled by unsustainable fantasies. Spaceport America is empty. Big Falcon Rocket is hollow. The moon is still an brusque alien rock.

We can’t let billionaires hoard all the beauty; we can’t let ourselves accept that aggregate they have is beautiful. A field trip with a billionaire and his artist friends, that uses so much of the earth’s resources, is not an alarming image of how the future?—?on Earth or in space?—?might be. Under Musk and the aggressive tech barons, space has become a gimmick. Up for sale is a one-way ticket not from earth’s crises but rather from our adeptness to brainstorm altered forms of life. Instead of a place for 18-carat analysis into our aggregate future, space has become article else: the affiance of profit. Outer space is now a scam.

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