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Space colonization is just part of an entire missing future that I’ve believed in since the middle of the twentieth century. What does my missing future look like, and what caused this techno-dream to take root in my mind?

In retrospect, I can identify three major sources:

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As a frustrated space colonist, I don’t usually find much in the news to cheer about. Watching the American manned space program wither over the past few decades has been depressing. However, discovering Elon Musk and his company SpaceX made me very happy.

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Elon Musk is a South African-born American entrepreneur who made a fortune on the internet; he’s a co-founder of PayPal. After selling PayPal to eBay, Elon single-handedly started his own space program, with the ultimate aim of “making life interplanetary.” Elon doesn’t just want to launch satellites. He wants to go to Mars.

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The goal of SpaceX is to provide affordable, reliable transport to Earth orbit and beyond. Since its inception in 2002, SpaceX has been quietly designing and building a fleet of Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft.

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The loftiest purpose of space travel is to ensure the survival of the human species; having all of us living on one planet is just too risky. Science fiction author Robert Heinlein said it best through his Lazarus Long character:

When a place gets crowded enough to require ID’s, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about space travel is that it made it possible to go elsewhere.

Sooner or later, some event or combination of events is going to cause the complete collapse of the house of cards that is modern civilization. The list of potentially catastrophic events is long, strange, and growing constantly. These events fall into two categories: natural and human-caused.

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Astronauts dread pooping in a zero-gravity environment. They dread it so much that they’ll take extreme measures to avoid doing it: some simply stop eating; others medicate themselves into constipation.

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Like many aspiring space colonists, I’ve always assumed that living in a zero-g environment would be nothing but carefree fun. Mary Roach, in her book Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, shatters that illusion.

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I agree with Sara Barbour on the relative sensual merits of books and Kindles. To me, Kindle reading is to book reading as popping vitamin pills is to gourmet dining: I’m getting some nutrients, but the pleasure is gone.

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However, that’s not my chief objection to Kindle and indeed all e-books and e-book readers. To me, they represent the first fateful step in the televisionization of books.

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Televisionization is the conversion of a place or a communication medium into a television-watching venue. This process began in the mid twentieth century, and it shows no sign of abating.

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