🚀 What we should learn about Elon Musk and SpaceX from the new documentary 'Return to Space'
Also: 5 Quick Questions for … MIT research scientist Neil Thompson on the end of Moore’s Law and the future of computing
In This Issue
The Essay: What we should learn about Elon Musk and SpaceX from the new documentary Return to Space
5QQ: 5 Quick Questions for … MIT research scientist Neil Thompson on the end of Moore’s Law and the future of computing
Micro Reads: mega-airships taking flight, age reversal in mice, no to NIMBYs, and more …
Quote of the Issue
“Now, little more than 40 years ago, astronauts descended the nine-rung ladder of the lunar module called Eagle, and allowed their feet to touch the dusty surface of the Earth's only Moon. This was the culmination of a daring and perilous gambit — of an endeavor that pushed the boundaries of our knowledge, of our technological prowess, of our very capacity as human beings to solve problems. It wasn't just the greatest achievement in NASA's history — it was one of the greatest achievements in human history. And the question for us now is whether that was the beginning of something or the end of something. I choose to believe it was only the beginning.” - President Barack Obama, April 15, 2010
🚀 What we should learn about Elon Musk and SpaceX from the new documentary Return to Space
This is a newsletter about human progress. So I’m constantly hunting for relevant examples for all of you, my dear subscribers. Recently, Elon Musk, in an internal Tesla email, said he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy. President Joe Biden then had a thought about Musk’s thought. “Lots of luck on his trip to the Moon,” Biden said of the SpaceX founder. Well, at least he acknowledged Musk’s existence. That doesn’t happen too often. So progress!
Another example of progress: The president talking about a fellow American going to the Moon. And not in a “Go ahead, dream your impossible dream” sort of way. More like a sibling snipping at his brother after a fight, “Have fun going to your stupid concert tonight. Whatever. Jerkface.”
Because, you know, America is going back to the Moon. And if Musk has anything to do about it, to Mars and beyond. But for nearly a decade after the final Space Shuttle flew in 2011, America couldn’t even get itself into orbit around the Earth. Then on May 30, 2020, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken launched toward the International Space Station in the Crew Dragon spacecraft, propelled to the heavens by a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster rocket.
The story of how Musk, SpaceX, and America took a leap back into space between 2011 and 2020 is told vividly in the two-hour Netflix documentary, Return to Space, which premiered in April. The film has been criticized by some as too laudatory. But given that SpaceX is reigniting a dream of space abandoned a half century ago, future documentary watchers might not see it as laudatory enough. Here are my give takeaways from Return to Space:
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