With America’s focus shifting back towards the presidential election in the days leading up to Monday night’s record-setting debate, a few other notables news items have sort of slipped through the cracks recently. So let’s catch up.
For one, protests surfacing from racial unrest throughout the country continue, in the aftermath of police shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Charlotte, North Carolina.
In a way, both movements achieved results. In Tulsa, a female officer was charged for shooting Terence Crutcher. In Charleston, public pressure forced the police department to release video footage of the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
But they were small victories in what will inevitably be a very long march towards justice.
News from the sports world took a tragic turn last weekend, amid the sudden death of 24-year-old Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. A beacon of light in the sport, and one of the game’s best pitchers who escaped repression by defecting to the U.S. from Cuba as a teenager, Fernandez’s death in a boating accident early Sunday morning has left all fans of the game in a state of shock.
He will certainly be remembered as one of the most talented young players to see their life and career cut short, and it’s a loss for anybody who is a fan of the game of baseball. One of its brightest stars is now lost.
Sports also lost Arnold Palmer, at the more elderly age of 87. He’s one of the greatest golfers ever, and he popularized a very tasty iced tea-lemonade beverage that you’ve probably drank at some point in your life.
Next time you drink one, pour some out for good ole Arnie.
But what I would like to focus on today is the ambition and vision of Elon Musk. Dubbed by some as the real life Tony Stark, Musk is the CEO of Tesla Motors and the founder of SpaceX — two companies that have pioneered amazing breakthroughs in technology but have also suffered setbacks in recent months.
On Tuesday, Musk laid out his plan to colonize Mars. Not to fly to it, or even land on it, but to colonize it.
In short, his plan involves a giant spaceship that would be launched into the Earth’s orbit by a giant rocket. The rocket would return to Earth, and make multiple trips back to obtain fuel (the lighter it is per trip, the less expensive). The launch window would occur every 26 months, when Earth is closest to Mars.
The spaceship will then travel 62,000 miles per hour to Mars over the course of six months. Ideally, Musk said, thousands of ships would be launched every 26 months carrying a couple of hundred people, so that there is enough to create civilization.
Done and done.
You can’t really blame a guy for trying, right? I mean, one day we probably will get to Mars, right? So why not think about it now? And in Musk’s defense, his plan was more thorough than anything we heard regarding any other topic during Monday’s debate.
Bear in mind, Musk is the same guy who thinks there’s a one in a billion chance we’re not living in a computer simulation (although if you read his rationale, it’s hard not to believe him. But that’s a topic for another day).
Either way, he’s a visionary and thinking light-years ahead of everybody else. And actually backing up his words with a plan.
NASA, too, has long had its own plan of getting to Mars. But unlike Musk, the federal agency is limited by bureaucratic red tape.
What’s that corny saying? Reach for the moon, because if you miss, you’ll grab a star?
Well fuck the moon and the stars. You heard me. This isn’t some inspirational fairy tale you tell kids to soften them for inevitable failure.
We’re reaching for Mars. And thanks to innovators like Elon Musk, we might one day pull it off.
As for me, I’m still mapping out a plan for how I will leave my couch to walk to the refrigerator.