Plans to make cutting-edge cancer drugs in space

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“She helped cure cancer” seems like a better legacy for a billionaire than “she created a feudal kingdom in L-5 orbit”, but maybe that’s just me.


TIL; Space isn’t just for tech billionaires. It’s also for big pharma!

I wonder if my HMO covers miracle space drugs? Or do I need Jeff Bezos’ health care plan?


I was never a huge Stan, but this was the moment I really began to hate Musk. What a selfish, arrogant, destructive thing to do.


It was a test flight, and most test flights with that sort of “we don’t know if it will work, that’s why it is a test!” motive launch big concrete plugs. So launching a car that was a prototype and presumably had don it’s job of proving and disproving various assertions is not really any more wasteful then the concrete plug.

If I wanted to argue against it, my best counter argument would be “yes, launching the car may get some PR, but if the launch goes wrong it also spatters some unpleasant bits into the atmosphere or even onto a wide span of the surface (LiIon batteries are very common items, but also pretty nasty things)”

Most people that make a “it probably will work in space” device find it expensive enough that they don’t want to put it on the “it might below up, we haven’t had a test flight in this configuration before, that’s why we are doing this one!” They vastly prefer a “isn’t gonna blow up” flight, preferably with a low pounds to orbit price, or a grant to pay whatever the price actually is.

Even if you can find people that are like “yeah, I’ll take an unquantified risk on my once in a lifetime build” you also have to get the timing to work out.

…on the other hand, it is perfectly fine to hate Musk for being a dick in general, and doing a large number of selfish arrogant destructive things. I just don’t think this particular thing really was one. He absolutely does more than enough dick/selfish/arrogant/destructive (choose up to 4) things to qualify for a target of hate.

He just isn’t a cartoon villain, some of the things he does don’t qualify under that umbrella (i.e. he is an actual villain, has a complex back story, and sometimes mixes a bit of good or neutral stuff in with all his bullshit). Or maybe he is a cartoon villain, many actual villains found in cartoons have a complex backstory and mix some good in with the neutral. Still a villain.

Of course it was wasteful. They could have launched something useful into space on that rocket. High risk of failure or no, just imagine how many researchers or university programs or engineering students would have been thrilled at the opportunity to launch a payload into space.


Those are all good points, but I feel like it’s missing one critical point; he didn’t just launch it as a payload test that would incinerate on reentry, he shot it off on an eccentric orbit that traverses Mars’ orbit. In other words, permanent space trash that will exist well beyond whatever plausible research use it might have had.

You lost me completely talking about Musk’s complex backstory. Investment by family and failing up are as simple as they get.


About time. This was supposed to be a major application to generate shuttle payloads. Forty years ago. So far experiments have been flown regularly; first on the shuttle/spacelab, then on the ISS. I think there were some experiments that hitched a ride on satellite launches. Anyway, nothing even close to something resembling actual production.

Then, last year, the first commercial, dedicated flight ever, by Varda. Which I’d say was a proof of concept/tech demo mission, generating ritonavir in orbit. Which is a sensible, one-step-at-a-time approach to do something very, very complex. It looks like Varda is serious about this. Their real problem will be whether their investors are patient enough. Investors bailing out when they realise that space is hard after the first failure and return on investment will take serious time to materialize is what usually kills space ventures, from launch vehicles to asteroid mining. By the way, one of the investors here is Peter Thiel; make of this what you will.

I hate that I knew that just from the name. I like Tolkien. Thiel can go to hell. :frowning:

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