So, Elon Musk now owns space. Wow. However, with the final frontier now set to be the next billboard, we’re all doomed. Bring on the Spacebook Wars.
It was hypothesised in Fight Club – in the film at least – that the future will be sponsored by corporations.
“When deep space exploration ramps up,” Edward Norton’s Narrator, um, narrates, “it’ll be the corporations that name everything: the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks.”
And it’d be funny (curious, rather than “ha-ha” funny) that a 1999 film satirising nihilism and toxic masculinity could get a disturbing amount of ideas right a few short decades later. Those of us who were of a certain age at the time of the film’s release could – for the most part – relate to it, but we were, hopefully, aware of it being a satire; that it wasn’t to be taken as a how-to. That if one was burdened by an overzealous consumerist society, perhaps feeling betrayed by a previous generation and the legacy, world and economy they left as one’s inheritance, and one wanted to feel something… a decent espresso may very well do the trick. Whatever floats your boat, really. Don’t be punching each other and blowing up stuff for fun.
This morning, Australian time, Elon Musk’s multi-billion corporate behemoth SpaceX took the words out of Edward Norton’s mouth, and by launching a rocket into the heavens, have let the business world boldly go where no marketing strategy has ever gone before.
I am Jack’s sense of impending doom.
— TIME (@TIME) February 6, 2018
Musk called his phallocentric gambit “Falcon Heavy”, one presumes as a bit of cross-promotion with the release of the trailer for the new Han Solo movie.
Per the ABC, SpaceX has declared it will be the world’s most powerful (and most unimaginatively named) rocket in operation. It will be able to send heavy cargo along the lines of satellites into space on behalf of governments and private companies. Because that’s totally something everyone wants and needs and is an excellent idea that couldn’t possibly go wrong.
But the company says (kind of as an all-knowing, sentient unit), the rocket will also make crewed missions to the moon and Mars possible, which Trump totally wants and could totally do, on his own, because he’s smarter than most people, believe him, that he can tell you.
To get a sense of its power, the Falcon Heavy has the equivalent of approximately eighteen 747 aircraft in lift-off thrust, just like your mum.
Right, so this is another “art imitates life” moment (it’s been covered in an awful Cameron Crowe film called Aloha, where the Musk character was played by Bill Murray, and he was shonky and it was not philanthropic at all…but the film sucked, so we’ll move on), continuing 2018’s evolution as a year in which the headlines seem to have been ripped from the Twilight Zone, or Black Mirror, or The Onion, and it’s only going to get more bizarre from here on in.
Whatever Musk can do, Zuckerberg can probably do better, or will give the it old college try. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that we’ll see headlines in the future that Facebook has launched its own rocket into space (Spacebook?) and now one can presumably “like” or check into the moon.
My own hypothesis about this particular moment is that whatever Musk can do, Zuckerberg can probably do better, or at least wants to, or will give it the old college try. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that we’ll see headlines in the future that Facebook has launched its own rocket into space (Spacebook?) and now one can presumably “like” or check into the moon. Or that a “super full blood moon” experience like the one the planet collectively enjoyed last week for free will be something we can experience again, except that every few minutes the magnificent celestial experience will be interrupted by paid content, (“Like the Moon? You’ll love cool ranch Doritos!”) which we can block if we pay Facebook a small monthly fee.
And (because capitalism) competition will ramp up to the point where we will see mecha-Godzilla type showdowns in the style of Pacific Rim, wherein Musk’s giant space robot, emblazoned with corporate signage not far removed from the participants of Nascar events, will begin the ultimate fight to the death, in the skies, with Zuckerberg’s own giant metal monster.
Surely Bet365 (or whoever) will be taking odds on which monstrous colossus will land the first punch, who will triumph and how long the giant corporate robots in space battle will last…and remember to gamble responsibly.
The significance of this moment is that space has from here on in is to become a tool of corporations. There is a part of the left who may be perfectly fine with this, as much needed funds for social services in nations with space programs can divert their funds away from rocket ships and into feeding the homeless. The right also may be on board (I wouldn’t know, for my bubble is mostly insulated against their whims) as their “hard earned” tax dollars can now be spent on things that the world needs, like tax refunds.
I for one am seeing the start of a bafflingly plausible techno-dystopia.
I do, however, actually love the taste of cool ranch Doritos.