Thursday, June 5, 2014

Two Impressions

At SpaceX one of my interviewers had been the launch pad manager at XXXXX Air Force Base for some years before he was scooped up by Elon Musk. A tiny man, an engineer who looked like a missile himself, buzz-cut with tiny, razor-sharp spectacles of impossibly perfect transparency, he fairly gripped the edge of the table, quivering with tension, as he asked me about technical details of my space suit. At the end of his computer-like interrogation he let go of the table, or softened his grip at least, and then from his mouth came the most astounding words. "You know all of this is for establishing a new branch of civilization on Mars, right? You know that, don't you? Tesla supports SpaceX. The SpaceX defense contracts exist to keep SpaceX alive, because only the Pentagon has any money. You know that, right? We exist to settle Mars."

This was the complete opposite experience from one I had last year, talking about space colonization at the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum. There, after my talk about why I think this is an important endeavor, one of the audience, an attactive young woman with dreadlocks came to tell me that "What you have talked about tonight could work. It will happen if you try it. But the stars," she said, "and I speak for the stars -- I am from the stars -- they say, 'don't do it, you're not ready'".

It was an arresting moment and it felt as though I were in a science fiction movie. I still think about that.

What a fascinating pair!

No comments: