Minutes To Odysseus. A ponder.

February 22, 2024

Author: Smith

3:50pm PT addition:
“Welcome to the moon.”
– Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus

A big day. February 22nd, 2024. A BIG day.

Here, with just minutes before the hopefully successful soft landing of the Odysseus “mission’ I just want to relay a conversation from earlier this morning on Bloomberg Radio. Traffic was doing 60 in a 40 so I didn’t have the safe ability of starting my phone voice recorder but from memory this was the gist:

1 “Today at 4 o’clock eastern an American space mission is scheduled to do a soft landing on the Moon!”

2 “That’s so neat. It will be the first American landing on the moon in decades and, as a First, it won’t just be a NASA mission but a commercial mission’

1 “That’s right. But, you know, I spoke to a Gen-Z person this morning and their generation thinks that this is a hoax, that it’s not really happening. What? [to an off-mic studio person] it was you, right, oh and you’re not a Gen-Z you’re a Millennial, sorry.”

2 “Well, I’m a Millennial and I don’t think that.”

1 “Ok. Anyway, they say that this is all to begin to create a permanent Human presence on the Moon. So.. that’s good.”

[ a couple of actual full seconds of dead-air, which is death to any Radio presentation]

2 “… Neat! And NVIDIA also is big news today…”

The anecdotal mention of Gen-Z and Millienial may be something to jaw over, but for those groups even if they don’t think the Odysseus “mission” is a hoax, there is the fact that these are generations that had been born and have grown to adulthood with the International Space Station over their heads. And if they learned anything about ISS in school for a history test, it was probably the line: “the International Space Station was built to create a permanent Human Presence in Space.”

Neat. But. Did ISS do anything for THEM in their lifetimes? Did it *Inspire Them* to dream of the actual likelihood of THEM living and working on real important things in Space? Themselves?

Or did most of them hit 16 or 17 and start pondering the Jobs that they THEY could actually end up doing to get the personal life that they wanted… and start doing those things instead of “Space”?

Dr. Buzz Aldrin MIT Technology Review

A couple of weeks ago SSI Executive Director Robin and I met up with Spin/Tether tech icon Joe Carroll down in Pasadena at a little gathering promoted as an Entrepreneurs Forum on The Rising Lunar Economy. It was a 2 hour event with the first hour and a half being on the Science and the plights of the ScienTISTS working to get their Science onto the Moon. After the event, just walking around howdy-ing folks, my anecdotal ‘rithamtic showed that most of the attendees were Scientists or Engineers working on the same project as the main speaker, then there were several who were not there because they had any interest in Lunar anything but they were locals and took advantage of all public CalTech events just because they were cheap… and neat.

Happily, there were a few I shook hands with who were drawn to the title of the event because they actually were Entrepreneurs or looking for insights on how to be Entrepreneurs in a possible rising economic opportunity. These last folks, in my personal anecdotal analysis, mostly walked out looking for some other place to invest their time and possible money.

There was a moment where it looked like the flow of the conversation could have been dynamically altered for these folks. During the Q&A, a woman about half way back in the pews on stage left stood up and asked, essentially, ‘What exactly should we, and Can we, do to help get more people working on making this Lunar Economy real?’

And the answers were: ‘Contact your legislators and tell them how important this Science is.’ And: ‘All Human beings have a fundamental drive to Explore, it’s in our DNA. EVERYONE wants to know where we came from and where we fit in the universe.’ And: ‘These missions have to continue because they inspire young people to want to become Scientists.’

As the Bloomberger said before moving on to real news: “Neat.”

Not funny at the time, but nagging at me since then is the memory of the words of some jerk at the very back of the room, not being professional and polite they said just a bit too loudly: “Tell them there’s Jobs. People want jobs.”

Yeah, a jerk. But….

One of the reasons Gerard K. O’Neill’s High Frontier (the book with that name and the concept behind it) grabbed so many young people in the 1970s and 1980s is is not just that the definition of the concept – “Using the Material and Energy Resources of Space to Improve the Human Condition on Earth” – is a darned good and easy to understand goal, but because O’Neill showed that the numbers added up to it being not only possible but personally profitable. The doing of it was presented as a thing that the people hearing about it truly felt that THEY could do. As jobs. Well paying, well deserving of good pay, Jobs.

Are there Jobs *in space* today? Not many at the moment. But I’d bet that if the story of the Odysseus landing was being presented as a real step towards real jobs for real people, not just nano-geology for Scientists and not just future shovel-pushing by robots, if it weren’t being presented to outsiders only as “Isn’t this Neat!” – when they know that the previous “permanent human presence in space” mission is on its own way to de-orbit having provided no obvious day-to-day benefit back to regular people – then it would be a better thing. A better story for around family dinner tables tonight, a better story for Bloomberg, the WSJ and other places where investors look for tips on getting in on a growth potential.

If you look into Odysseus, or Artemis, ARE there jobs, good jobs, there? Will there be in 10 years, or will there just be another, cool but somewhat elitist, ISS?

If you see that there can be good jobs there, tell that story.

If you don’t see the possible potential for regular people ever getting good jobs “in space”, then maybe you should invest an hour or two into researching how the numbers have already been analyzed to add up differently.

Maybe you should take a look at that still-unusual For-The-People “space” book:

The High Frontier By Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill.

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