February 7, 2018

RAZIB KHAN: Why SpaceX Matters. “Musk, and Jeff Bezos, envisage us as an inter-planetary (and perhaps extra-planetary) species. This is laudable so as to avoid the risk of mass extinction on a single ‘lifeboat Earth.’ . . . The lesson from prehistory is that modern humans are a crazy species. We journey across the deep blue sea into the unknown. To a great extent, this is irrational for the groups and individuals who engage in this activity. The vast majority of voyagers probably expired. And yet something within us kept pushing some of us until we made it. In a different lingo, one might say that staying home, focusing on safety and comfort, is a local maximum. International space agencies and private firms such as Lockheed Martin were chasing the local maxima. That was safe and defensible. Only someone as crazy as Elon Musk would push SpaceX into an endeavor which was insane and likely to fail. And yet sometimes humans don’t fail, and crazy is actually saner than we could ever imagine.”