Space Travel: Fiction Versus Reality

Why humans won’t explore the stars, or even our own solar system

Allan Milne Lees

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Image credit: NASA (from Hubble space telescope)

In general, people have an endearing tendency to believe what they see depicted in Hollywood entertainments. This is why most people imagine that they need only stroll off into the sunset hand-in-hand with their beloved to enjoy an eternal happy-ever-after as the credits roll. It’s why people think that you can restart a heart with a defibrillator. It’s why juries convict on the basis of entirely unreliable DNA evidence. The list of follies we commit because we can’t discern the difference between fiction and reality is to all intents and purposes endless.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that the topic of space exploration should be rife with confusion. Hardly anyone, including a lot of folks working at NASA who ought really to know better, fails to conflate Hollywood space cowboy fantasies with achievable and reasonable goals. In addition, politicians have nearly zero interest in funding actual science; they all want their names associated with telegenic but scientifically worthless stunts involving pushing humans briefly out of Earth’s gravity well at exorbitant expense. The general public, everyone knows, has no curiosity about what’s out there unless it involves people floating around and mugging for the camera or, better yet, humanoid-shaped…

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Allan Milne Lees

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.