While most people, even in the media, are excited by the possibilities presented by President Trump’s desire to make America great again through #space exploration, Michael Hiltzik, writing for the #La Times s not among them Hiltzik has published a column that calls into question the entire notion of human spaceflight.
The article does not have a lot of thought or research in it, relying instead on familiar tropes that include the usual overselling of robotics and AI to the wildly exaggerated cost estimates of sending humans to Mars. (“Trillions?” Seriously?) The columnist seems unfamiliar with the history of space exploration and of the current drive for space commercialization. In short, his article is drivel, unworthy of a major newspaper.
Hiltzak has won a Pulitzer for Beat Reporting due to his exposure of corruption in the music industry. He has written a number of books, including a polemic against President George W. Bush’s attempts to reform social security. He was suspended without pay in 2005 for posting comments on his blog under another name to attack radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt and legal blogger Patrick Frey with whom he had a running feud. He became a business columnist at the LA Times in 2009 despite his past committing of what is now termed “fake news.”
The robots vs. humans controversy was laid to rest over a decade ago when the British Royal Astronomical Society released the results of a study that concluded that astronauts were essential for the scientific exploration of other worlds. The report did not cover commercial activities such as mining and space tourism, not to mention space settlements.
Hiltzak’s work in other areas cannot be as slipshod and as badly researched as his space exploration article, otherwise more people would have noticed. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that he has developed a preconceived conclusion and has produced a poorly written article to present it.
With a renewal of space exploration happening at both NASA and the commercial sector, it behooves the media to get things right when covering it. Otherwise, they tend to look especially foolish. #mission to Mars