The Trump administration’s push to return to the moon has caused rare excitement, perhaps not seen since the early days of the Apollo project. Scientists have started to develop strategies to begin delving into the secrets of the universe. The commercial space sector stands ready to lend a hand. Even NASA seems to be on board. Perhaps, at last, humans will venture beyond low Earth orbit for the first time since 1972. However, Linda Billings, a self-described “communications expert” is less than thrilled and has attempted to state why in her blog.

Stopping the commercialization of space

Billings seems to be mainly triggered by the notion of greedy capitalists like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos venturing out to space and doing whatever they want with minimal or even no regulation. She uses the term “libertarian” as a caustic epithet. She also thinks that noble goals of making humanity a multi-planet species and the desire to make money are mutually exclusive. This notion is untrue. One can make money and do good at the same time, something that Elon Musk is a big believer in.

However, this idea runs counter to what I know due to conversations with some of the players in the commercial space sector. Private businesspeople are, contrary to Billings’ misconception, very much in favor of regulation.

After all, it is difficult to conduct business unless one knows what the rules of the road are. However, commercial space entrepreneurs would like to be able to comply with regulations that are rational, easy to understand, and that do not throw up unnecessary impediments to doing business.

Billings is somewhat vague about who would actually be inconvenienced if free-market capitalists are let loose on the solar system.

The closest she comes is the notion that a Mars colony such as the one Elon Musk would like to build would “contaminate” the Red Planet. The idea is environmentalism gone berserk that human beings and other lifeforms could be considered pollution. Mars life, if it exists at all, could still be distinguished using genetic sequencing.

Then there is the Nazi angle

Billings blows past the strictures of Godwin’s law when she casts a jaundiced eye on the so-called “Rise to Mars” anthem that was recently put out by the Mars Society. “An anthem? Next thing you know, we’ll be seeing Leni-Riefenstahl-esque propaganda films advocating for the conquest of other planets. I don’t know whether to laugh it off or hide under my bed…. What about you?”

Knowing Bob Zubrin, the president of the Mars Society, as I do, I can assure one and all that his inspiration was more the “Star Spangled Banner” than the “Horst Wessel Lied.” As for films advocating the conquest of space, my reaction is to bring it on. I am a great fan of “The Martian” which would certainly qualify.

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