William Shatner: Actually, going to space was a huge bummer

IIRC, several astronauts have expressed similar attitudes.

Heck, Kim Stanley Robinson (fantastic author, and buddy of Cory)… the guy who wrote the Mars Trilogy about Mars settlement, has said that he doesn’t think it is ever going to happen because it’s just too hard and people wouldn’t be happy with the lives they would live.

You’re underground for 99.9 percent of your life, with short excursions on the surface in enclosed rovers or bulky pressure suits. Unless you’re one of the very few that would be okay with it, it’s going to end in a bad time.


Robinson’s Aurora deals directly with this theme that space colonization is a fantasy. A great read, if you haven’t already.


KSR is my #2 favorite author. That book really broke my brain with the questions it grappled with. I like the idea that he thinks in the very long term, solar system colonization is likely possible, simply because Earth is just so close!

Interstellar, though, nope.


Wherever he is, Philip K. Dick would agree.


Robinson really pissed off a lot the fanbase he built through his Mars trilogy by throwing cold water on the whole space colonization idea with Aurora but it’s hard to argue with the reasoning behind his pessimism. Far too many space enthusiasts keep framing the idea of interplanetary colonization as something that is primarily an engineering challenge rather than something that is primarily a biological challenge. Recreating and maintaining an entire ecosystem is freaking hard.


Like the Total Perspective Vortex, only it points to an insignificant blue dot and says “You should be here.”


Yeah - for me, that dose of reality increased his standing. I frequently get tired of the kneejerk rah-rah’ing with respect to man in space that doesn’t account for its realities, or the fact that much of the attitude is based on an outdated mid-twentieth century paradigm of exploration and exploitation.


What he wrote needs to be heard aurally… If not Shat himself then at least by someone who does a decent Shatner. Perhaps Kevin Pollak? Jason Alexander?

So much this. Musk fanbois and such never really appreciate how hard getting to Mars and staying there is. Their imagined boss adventure of flying there in a cool ship full of touch screens then living in a cool high tech dome on another planet is probably 1000 years away. We’re nowhere close to even thinking about considering starting to plan to build the early stages of a mission that could lead to anything like that.

Our life here on earth at its worst (subsistence farming, regularly victimized by weather and wildlife) is 100x better than the best we can hope for on Mars. People need to appreciate what they have so they don’t lose it.


The irony is that most of those fanbois are rabid libertarian types, yet a life on Mars would necessarily be a socially-engineered dystopia that flies in face of every libertarian principle they hold dear.


Exactly. People always compare it to early ocean exploring. Except that when people got off their ships, everything needed for life was already there. Even on super easy mode like that, people still died by the hundreds of thousands and it took hundeds of years to really form all the “colonies” (stopping there because I realize how problematic it is to start that conversation).

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This is why I can’t read Heinlein. All his exoplanetary colonies are gun-totin’ Wild West libertarian paradises, but it’s so deeply ridiculous. They’d all scam each other out of the remaining air and water in the first week and die. The more fragile a colony is, the more rigid and centrally-controlled life would have to be.


Of course there’s nothing preventing the rich techbros from living that way right now on Earth but few would choose to do so because even introverts usually like to go outside once in a while.


If you like the natural comparison would be exploring the Antarctic. There it wasn’t a question of fighting or looting other people, just pushing into an envrironment that is slightly less habitable (I mean, there’s still air and a protective magnetic field and even food, but it is cold). And it cost a lot of lives to do, but today…well, there are some research stations. I mean, not cities, but then if you’re not doing research you will be happier living anywhere else. :neutral_face:


Yes, it’s a great analogy. Life there is punishingly difficult and fragile, but there’s still air, water, no radiation, temperatures in a survivable range, and normal atmospheric pressure. Plus help is always a few hours’ plane ride away. As hard as Antarctica is, it’s still a billion-fold easier than Mars.


Ah good old “Shat himself” a nickname to be proud of.


Free air, free water, local food sources… and still not even close to a self-sufficient society there. If they were completely cut off from the rest of humanity every single person in Antartica would probably be dead within what, a decade at the outside?