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Liberty in Space?

Rand links to this interesting post at Cato Unbound on colonizing space and the “future of freedom”:

The critical question then becomes one of means, of how to escape not via politics but beyond it. Because there are no truly free places left in our world, I suspect that the mode for escape must involve some sort of new and hitherto untried process that leads us to some undiscovered country; and for this reason I have focused my efforts on new technologies that may create a new space for freedom…

(2) Outer space. Because the vast reaches of outer space represent a limitless frontier, they also represent a limitless possibility for escape from world politics. But the final frontier still has a barrier to entry: Rocket technologies have seen only modest advances since the 1960s, so that outer space still remains almost impossibly far away. We must redouble the efforts to commercialize space, but we also must be realistic about the time horizons involved. The libertarian future of classic science fiction, a la Heinlein, will not happen before the second half of the 21st century…

The future of technology is not pre-determined, and we must resist the temptation of technological utopianism — the notion that technology has a momentum or will of its own, that it will guarantee a more free future, and therefore that we can ignore the terrible arc of the political in our world.

A better metaphor is that we are in a deadly race between politics and technology. The future will be much better or much worse, but the question of the future remains very open indeed. We do not know exactly how close this race is, but I suspect that it may be very close, even down to the wire. Unlike the world of politics, in the world of technology the choices of individuals may still be paramount. The fate of our world may depend on the effort of a single person who builds or propagates the machinery of freedom that makes the world safe for capitalism. 

But then there’s this downer on one of the companies that might eventually get us past the “rocket problem”:

Due for lift-off on April 21, Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry secretary-general Datuk Abdul Hanan Alang Endut said the delay was because of problems with the launching vehicle.

The vehicle, Falcon 1, belonging to a company Space Exploration Technology (SpaceX), is to lift off the satellite from the launching pad at Omelek Island, Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Island.

Abdul Hanan said SpaceX will be doing the repairs which will take at least six weeks.

Yes, these things take time to perfect – and in this case, a lot more time than those involved expected.  The problem is, as the Thiel article suggests, we don’t have a whole lot of time to waste.

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