Westworld,” the HBO series based very loosely on the 1970s movie about the ultimate theme park, depicts humanity as an evil, depraved species that is likely to get what it deserves when the robots finally rebel. So a panel discussion on the TV show was an odd event to trot out SpaceX’s Elon Musk to offer a piece of optimism, complete with a video of the recent launch of the Falcon Heavy that sent a car with a mannequin at the wheel into interplanetary space, according to Ars Technica.

‘Life can’t be about solving one miserable problem after another’

Musk, whose private space program has started to get the attention of the world, offered a brief explanation about why he launched the car and, on a broader note, why he founded SpaceX. He said, “There are a lot of things in this world that can get you down, but life can’t be about solving one miserable problem after another. There have to be things that inspire you, to make you wake up in the morning and be proud of humanity. That’s why we did this.” Then Musk showed an inspirational video that painted in images what he was trying to convey in words.

What is the real reason we explore space?

Arguments about space exploration often boil down to mundane cost/benefit analyses.

Do we get more out of launching people to the moon or sending cars to Mars than we put in it? The short answer to that question is, yes we do. Even the Apollo program generated more money than it cost to do, primarily due to technological spin-offs, according to a number of studies.

And landing men on the moon contributed substantially to the winning of the Cold War, by impressing on the Soviets and the rest of the world the technological superiority of the West.

No one should doubt that a renewed space exploration effort, whether it is undertaken by private business, NASA, or most likely both will have similar effects.

However, Musk was touching on the psychological effects of launching things on rockets. Most people do feel an upsurge of optimism when they know that people are doing great and beautiful things in space.

A society that is filled with people who feel inspired is a far healthier one than a society where people are bitter and angry all the time. Musk certainly has a great point to make about the inspirational effects of space exploration.

Most people but not all people

Not everyone is greatly inspired by big rockets flying to the heavens. Few people remember that the launch of Apollo 11 was the venue of a civil rights protest. Musk’s launch of the car into interplanetary space was the subject of ire from the feminist left.

Emily Lakdawalla, a self-described “planetary evangelist,” was triggered by a video of a group of what she described as “all male, and almost entirely light-skinned” employees of Musk celebrating the launch.

Marcie Bianco, a gender studies academic, compared rocket launches and the prospect of space colonies to rape.

Space travel and exploration are inspirations for almost everybody. Unfortunately, there is just no pleasing some people. But then a good argument for moving to a space colony is that it affords the opportunity to get away from people like that. Who needs all that negativity?