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Posts tagged final frontier

A few observations prompted by Philae and space ventures in general

Until recently the concept of “space” has seemed stuck in time to me, if not relegated to the past. The space station is a relic of the the 80’s/90’s and with no Shuttle, now served by Russian rockets built in the 70’s, even more of a nostalgic 20th Century endeavor. I’ve also viewed space tourism as a pretty self indulgent luxury; marking a decadent, post industrial society rather than a bold step forward. Space has just seemed too esoteric and irrelevant, given the various social, political and environmental issues on our own blue marble.

But, having said this, I’m coming around to see space initiatives much more favorably. In fact, I think in addition to muddling around here on earth with Islamic States, Ebola and Affordable Care, humans really need to pursue something esoteric and transcendent. One might view it as a sort of religious impulse. I see parallels here with cathedral building during the middle ages. That is, doing something really hard and not really necessary; the best minds of the age conceiving and building the 21st Century equivalent of very tall structures to the glory of god by stacking shaped rocks into intricate, gravity defying forms, using nothing but hand tools and human/animal power.

I have an acquaintance here who recently left Microsoft to go to work for Space X, another Elon Musk venture, that is opening a Seattle office. Good career move or just tech job jumping to the next hot thing? And with Jeff Bezos’ commitment to Blue Origin, another local space venture, my initial reaction has been to think of such initiatives as just billionaires’ ultimate baubles, way beyond mega yachts and vintage Ferraris. But I’m beginning to believe that in addition to the outsized ego gratification there is more to it. Yes, we’ve got to address Islamic radicalism and climate change but to survive and prosper as a species we also need to stretch and pursue that transcendent impulse. And space seems to place to do it. I hope that the comet lander can extricate itself from under the shadow of the cliff and we get more amazing images. Even if not, it’s been an awesome feat.


We develop and market energy efficiency strategies and technologies. We focus on the building and transportation sectors, which account for more than two thirds of the energy budget.