L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 292, October 10, 2004
"It's not what it is. It's what it means."
Exclusive to TLE
It is October 4, 2004 and Astronaut, Brian Binnie in SpaceShipOne has punched through the Earth's atmosphere again to near-Earth spaceto win the Ansari X-Prize of a beautiful trophy and a check for ten million dollars. He also won the hearts and minds of Ethnically American Folk of all countries and nationalitiesby proving, with solid performance, that mankind can go to space without any input from, and despite interference from, government.
How about that, indeed!?
I was a bit earlier arriving at the spaceport than the previous time, as I anticipated a larger crowd would attend. I was not disappointed; with attendance about three times the first prize-flight of last week, as I saw it from the middle of the whole thing. The traffic jam at the spaceport was fair to middling. The weather was less worrisome this time, being warmer and with almost no wind as thousands of "rocket boosters" congregated by the side of the taxi-way.
Launch from the spaceport was scheduled for 7:00 a.m. and started just about on time; as the chase planes and White Knight with his burden, SpaceShipOne, started down the taxi-way to the south end for a northbound takeoff. The climb to a drop-launch altitude of 47,000 feet was much the same as the previous flights, although this time the humidity was enough to form contrails above about 20,000 feet altitude, giving us the ability to easily follow the ships as they climbed. And again, thousands of rocket boosters did the Rutan Salute, shading our eyes and turning our gaze to the vertical.
When the ships got to launch altitude the voice of mission control gave us a five-minute warning, then a one-minute warning, and then the White Knight released SpaceShipOne for the final attempt at the X-Prize.
Once again we yelled our very heads off and watched that thin, white line ascend the heavens as Brian Binnie rode the flame to spaceto claim the X-Prize and put mankind firmly on the road to the stars.
It's not what it is. It's what it means.
These first three space missions of SpaceShipOne are doing again, for free-market space travel, the jobs of others who have gone before, both free Men and government employees. The first, in June of this year, did the job for free-market space travel that the Wright brothers did at Kitty Hawk for aviation. The second and third missions, to win the X-Prize, did the job for Mankind that the Mercury program did for the United States in its race with the Soviet Union during their "cold war".
Burt Rutan apocryphally quoted the government and large aerospace corporations on this day as saying "We're screwed!"
This time, though, the good guys are the Human race. The bad guys are the governmentsand the asteroids who's orbits cross that of the Earth. The governments are determined to hold all of Mankind down, as slaves in the mud, through eternity. The asteroids have no agenda. They are just rocks. Rocks that can, and did in the past, wipe-out most of life on Earth, including all the dominant species; by colliding with our planetlike the mother of all fusion bombs.
Remember what happened to the dinosaurs. They ruled the world for millions of years. Then "the rock" came and hit Yucatan. All that is left of them now is fossils and the birds.
Man has several reasons to go to space now.
It is necessary for the survival of the race, as the dinosaurs showed us. We must get some of our "eggs" out of the "basket" of the Earth, so Man will not die when the next bit rock hits. Only a civilization beyond the sky can do that. We must press on to orbit, Luna, the asteroids of the belt, the other planets and their moons. Then, perhaps, we can catch those Earth-crossing asteroids and mine them for mineral wealth; instead of letting them kill all of us off, as the politicians would let them do.
It is necessary for the progress of Humanity to obtain and use the vast resources of energy, materials and living space that lie beyond Earth orbit. The resources of the Earth for energy and materials are limited, in forms that are economical to use. The resources of space; the Sun and the other astronomical bodies of our Solar system; are limited too, but are vastly more than we have here on Earth.
Americans got rich and developed the highest culture Mankind has ever seen by going to the Western Frontieras free Men who understood anarchy and capitalism, which are free enterprise. Now all of Mankind can start going to the high frontier to do the sameon a limitless scale. This can only be done by escaping governments through free-market space flight.
It is necessary for our spiritual and psychological health to go to space. Without a frontier there is no "safety valve" for people who need more elbow-room and freedom of action than the average person. Without a frontier there is nowhere to escape the ravages of government and build a new life. Without a frontier there is no hope, even for those who stay at home and only dream of going. Then, all we have left is civil war. Without a frontier it is cruelly hard to experiment with new social, family and economic systems that may be better; and surely will be different from the old ones; for those among us who need that.
All the other species specialize as species. They each, as a species, occupy an ecological niche. Man, on the other hand, specializes in being a generalist. Each individual tries, both biologically and behaviorally, to be as different from his fellows as he can. The normal differences between individual humans are greater than those between many of the other species. In that way we occupy all of the ecological niches that we can, for the greatest diversity and the greatest chance of survival of our race against all the dangers that we face. Even asteroid impacts. Politicians and socialists cannot understand any of this.
Even America, that paragon of cultural diversity and open space, is stewing in its own juice and ready to explode from the strain of social and political confinement.
We need that next hill to cross; we need a frontier to settle, to build our next civilizations and raise our families, to remain Human and to grow.
No government will ever do any of that. Politicians only want slaves, not neighbors.
Only free folk, like Burt Rutan, Paul Allen, Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie will do that.
Only the free folk can do that.
About twenty minutes after he topped-out at apogee above 100 kilometers, Brian Binnie made final approach to the runway of Mojave Spaceport, flared-out on ground effect just as smooth as you please, and greased another perfect two-point landing to bring SpaceShipOne back to Earthand a richly deserved, and noisy, welcome.
Lever Action by L. Neil Smith, and Hope by L. Neil Smith & Aaron Zelman, both at Discount Prices. www.aspubs.com