Privatization of Space to Thank for Man’s Fall From Heaven

Privatization of Space to Thank for Man’s Fall From Heaven

By Farnell Morisset

Dear Red Bull,

Your products are probably addictive, dangerous, bad for my health, and your marketing tactics are eerily reminiscent 1950s cigarette campaigns.  But I completely and totally forgive you, because of this:

In fact, as long as your idea of a publicity stunt involves pushing back the boundaries of human possibility, I will gladly give you my liver.  Now excuse me while I chug down one of your fine natural health products… for science!


Farnell Morisset
Canadian Space Program Applicant – 2009 (Rejected)

So for those of you who missed the day’s single most important news story, extreme skydiver Felix Baumgartner fell from heaven from a 39km-high helium balloon, utterly shattering a handful of world records in the process.  As if that wasn’t thoroughly awesome enough, the wonders of modern technology meant I could be one of the 5 million plus people who saw his ascent, jump, and safe landing live via the internet.

What I really want to point out, though, is that the project was almost entirely planned, financed, built, tested, and executed by private commercial interests – as it well should, given that governments the world over are strapped for cash.  When the last such record was set in 1960, it was by the US Air Force amidst growing public concerns surrounding the militarization of space. Fifty years later, government-funded space programs the world over are running out of breath while private companies, like SpaceX, are making leaps and bounds sending private commercial crafts into space. In other words, militarization of space is quickly making way for the privatization of space.  And this, I’d argue, is a good thing.

Why?  Well, counter-intuitively, this will actually make space more accessible. By the current publicly-financed model, only those with an incredibly rare set of physical and mental aptitudes ever have a chance to be selected for space travel.  So rare, in fact, that it’s actually a lot easier to become filthy rich – rich enough to afford private space operations – than it is to be selected for one of the world’s government-financed space agencies.  Sure, Average Joe’s odds of space flight are still miniscule, but given that there are nearly three times more living billionaires than there are living astronauts, Average Joe’s odds are still three times better.

And while the Cold-War era military space race was indeed motivated by little more than a high-stakes dick-waving contest, the scientific and engineering innovation that trickled down improved the lives of everyone, ranging from advances in life-saving medicine to improved football helmets.  This can only continue as private companies get involved, and so we should continue to salute the enterprising spirits behind them.  Even if their motivation is just a crass commercial reminder that Red Bull Gives You Wings, the fact is… in time, they just might.


About the author:

Born and raised in Québec City, Farnell Morisset attended English school throughout his primary, secondary, and CEGEP studies, before ultimately choosing to stay in Québec City and study civil engineering at Laval University.

While at Laval, he served as president of the civil engineering student association. It was there that he discovered his affinity for writing and commentary, preparing a weekly column in the student newspaper dealing with the issues he, as president of the association, felt were important and relevant.

Farnell is passionate about discussing (amongst other things) the issues of modern social identity for many Québecois who, like him, feel deeply connected to the Québecois nation and culture yet do not identify with the traditional francophone non-practicing Catholic nationalist image.

He is also alarmed by what seems to be an invasive and aggressive polarization of complex social issues for which there are no black-and-white answers. This eventual identity crisis, he feels, will only be solved through good faith in, and honest communication with, all sides pulling on our ever dwindling “pure laine” blanket.

It is with this in mind that he contributes to as a valued member of our, in-house, writing team.

Categories: News

About Author

Farnell Morisset

Farnell Morisset has an engineering degree from Université Laval and common law and civil law degrees from McGill University, where he also studied economics.

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