At the end of February 2017 Elon Musk’s company SpaceX announced they would be transporting the first two fare paying passengers on a trip around the Moon and back to Earth in 2018. Whilst SpaceX awaits its license from the Federal Aviation Authority, the space arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has already received its license for passenger space travel. It seems we are about to enter the world of the private space entrepreneur.
We seemed so close to greater space exploration during the 1960’s. That was the time of the first flyby of Mars and Venus, the first re-usable crewed spacecraft, the first orbital docking between two space craft and, of course, the first man walked on the Moon some 45 years ago. When one considers how much technology has progressed it is unbelievable that the same level of progress does not appear to have been applied to space travel. It seems that perhaps public and political sentiment questioned the huge expense of such space exploration, resulting in a much more modest budget and an apparent back pedaling. Today the US even relies on Russia to ferry US astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
So who are the billionaire space players?
Elon Musk – co founder of PayPal and CEO of Tesla Motors – Space X
Jeffrey P. Bezos – founder of Amazon and owner of Washington Post – Blue Origin
Sir Richard Branson – founder Virgin Group – Galactic Ventures and Virgin Orbit
Paul Allen – co-founder Microsoft – Vulcan Aerospace and Stratolaunch
Why are the billionaires leading the race into space?
Because they can? Or ego trip? Or a clue may lie in Branson’s words: ‘our very nature compels us to push beyond boundaries and to see what lies beyond the horizon’. Well maybe that’s the nature of a billionaire – particularly if there’s money in it, alongside the kudos of a place in history. Billionaires also look at costs – something which government owned organisations are notoriously bad at. True entrepreneurs know that they have to streamline their processes to be effective and profitable. They also know that sometimes they will fail – at times very publicly – understanding that they will learn much from their failures and that they will have an opportunity to come back stronger. Branson, for instance, has demonstrated this attitude following the fatal accident experienced in 2014 with Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane.
Musk appears to have had an interest in space from a very young age. His goal is for SpaceX to accelerate space exploration, ultimately with the idea of man becoming a multi-planetary being and for a self-sustaining civilization on Mars.
Musk tried to understand why rockets were so expensive. With this in mind he set out to make spaceflight significantly cheaper in order that it could become routine and affordable. His developments in re-usable space technology mean that even the manufacturer of China’s low cost Long March rocket cannot beat SpaceX pricing. Furthermore, Musk insists that performance will increase and prices will drop over time.
Bezos has a goal of ‘dynamic entrepreneurial explosion in space.’ His vision is to put all heavy industry into space so that the Earth can be preserved for residential and light industrial use and thereby become pollution free, whilst millions of people live and work in space.
Branson has had his sights set on private space travel for some time. He wants to create the first commercial spaceline and, unlike the rocket technology being developed by Musk and Bezos, he considers that people would prefer the comforts of a space plane that would land on a runway, as opposed to a rocket launch. For Branson space travel is all about the customer experience.
Paul Allen’s dream is a combination of plane and rocket technology. He is building Stratolaunch, the world’s largest airplane with a wingspan of 385 feet – wider than a football field, the plane will act as an aerial Launchpad for satellites and spacecraft and is designed to carry a rocket which will drop away from the main plane and launch into orbit.
Putting it in context
Space insiders and NASA had a pretty good idea of where space technology would go under a Hilary Clinton presidency, but the election of Trump has thrown this into disarray. So what will Trump do about the Space Launch System, currently under construction by Boeing – NASA’s flagship programme -which will supposedly transport astronauts to Mars? SLS is expensive, especially now that it can be compared to the progress of private companies such as SpaceX. Bezos and Musk have both launched computer controlled booster rockets that can be re-launched on earth – something NASA has not achieved. This is a game-changing development. Up to now boosters have always separated from their payloads and plummeted into the sea, discarded after a single launch. Bringing them back safely suggests substantially lower costs.
Will Trump want to be the President who transforms space travel and sends US astronauts to Mars? Of course. He’s a billionaire. Trump wants to make America great again – as it was when Americans first walked on the Moon. This would make Mars a tempting goal for Trump and, as a businessman himself, he will be looking at the cost of NASA doing this against private entrepreneurialship. Mars may not be ideal but it’s the best location we have right now and Trump would likely gain major political benefits if he could make this happen. And, in fact, during March of this year it was announced that Trump has signed a bill into law that updates NASA’s mission to add exploration of Mars. So, who will Trump collaborate with as NASA transitions from space exploration to the economic development of space via privately owned and operated space stations? Musk is on the highly probable list. He is already a member of Trump’s economic advisory council, he has spoken of sending people to Mars by 2024 and he has made no secret that he firmly believes that it is only a matter of time before Earth suffers a mass-extinction event and that we should be planning for this by colonizing Mars. Bezos must be another candidate – he also wants to colonise space in order to protect Earth.
On an astrological level Musk, Bezos and Allen (exact birth times unknown) all have a stimulating fit with Trump, Musk and Bezos having the best chemistry with him. But by the far the most likely candidate for a besty bosom buddy with the US President is Branson. So watch this space – or just watch space!
Amongst others in the space race are Boeing, Arianespace and, fairly unexpectedly, the UAE also have plans to colonise Mars with their project Mars 2117. As an oil rich nation, they are cash rich and could perhaps team up with one of the other main players who have the expertise. Musk, for instance, has recently opened a Tesla showroom in Dubai.
Nuclear thermal propulsion is another factor to be considered within the space race. It is a fundamentally new capability – well as far as we know it is a new capability! This technology would make it possible to get to Mars in just six weeks as opposed to 18 months. Russia is already on the point of testing a nuclear engine in 2018. However, whilst the journey time to Mars might be shortened with technology, not all of nature can be conquered. Planetary alignment means that the trip to Mars can only be made every two years, so those who go would have to be prepared to stay on Mars until the next window of opportunity allows them to return to Earth. This perhaps is also where Artificial Intelligence will become most useful. Rather than leaving humans to do the necessary development on Mars, AI could be created to do necessary construction work and initially adapt to conditions on the red planet.
And finally – what does the astrology indicate
Well the 2020’s certainly look a decade which will be pivotal in our history, which means we are now in the warming up period for this. I don’t want to go into too much detail right now because it will be the subject of another blog but just to summarise what we are in looking at:
In 2018 Uranus will enter Taurus. These guys are unlikely to prove to be happy bedfellows. Uranus seeks sudden change, shocks, upheavals – although ultimately to bring liberation, new ways of thinking, innovation and awakening through upsetting the status quo. Taurus on the other hand is perfectly happy wallowing in the status quo. It is a fixed and suborn sign that is primarily concerned with safety and security. It is about things that are tangible, the economic system, money, homes, the land and population. Uranus will march through like a tornado without giving a fig about safety or security – he wants freedom. Ultimately, he wants to wake everyone up from their slumbers and the only way he knows how to do this is to send them into turmoil.
We say history repeats itself, which it does, but never in exactly the same way. The last time Uranus was in Taurus was between 1934 and 1942. This was the period just after the Depression and during and just after World War 2. So clearly it was a time when material security and land was threatened. It led to revolutionary changes which, although shocking at first, ultimately became mainstream. We may indeed be on the point of some kind of global economic reset and/or threats to land and security. This could also manifest on a physical level with volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and extreme weather conditions.
In December 2020 we begin a new 240 year Jupiter/Saturn cycle, this time in the element of air, as they strikingly meet at 0 degrees of Aquarius. The Jupiter Saturn cycle is known as the Great Chronocrator, and a new cycle is regarded as a pivotal point in history. It reflects a country’s economic development and growth, the legal system, government policies, a nation’s manufacturing, trade, commerce and capitalism. Since 1842 the cycle has been in earth signs, which are about practical and financial matters, population, industry, food and the accumulation of wealth. 1842 was the time of the Industrial Revolution, a time which saw the growth of empires and population explosions. An air cycle suggests a stronger focus on culture, innovation, intellectual awakening. In 1961 the cycle took on a hybrid earth/air flavour as the two planets remained in conjunction through Capricorn and into Aquarius. We saw then a combination of Capricornian ambition and Aquarian innovations, such as those that led to man’s exploration of space and ultimately walking on the Moon. In the 1980’s there was a meeting of Jupiter and Saturn in air – this saw the beginning of the Aids epidemic and another space push.
In January 2020 we will see a Saturn Pluto conjunction at 22 Capricorn – but not just Saturn and Pluto though – they will be joined by a line up of Sun, Mercury and Ceres at this sensitive point. Later in March 2020 Saturn and Pluto will be joined by Jupiter and Mars still in Capricorn. What a line up. The Saturn Pluto cycle speaks of the end of an era and a collective compulsive power. It also speaks of a resistance to authority, mass surveillance and redistribution of power. For example Edward Snowden was born with a Saturn Pluto conjunction in Libra. Saturn Pluto aspects were apparent during World War 1, the great Depression, Roswell, the peak of the Vietnam War, the 1982 global recession and the escalation of the Cold War.
In 2023 we have Pluto’s entry into Aquarius. So we have an emphasis on planets of the collective entering Aquarius – a sign associated with science and innovation. We also, with Uranus in Taurus and the line up in Capricorn have an emphasis on the earth signs particularly associated with money, security, the economy, big business and government. Pluto’s travel through Capricorn has been much about exposing the truth of earthly oligarchical ambitions, the ambitions of the elite, exposure of secrets, etc etc. With Pluto we have to go through a death, transformation and rebirth process before we can arrive at the insights and innovations that Aquarius might bring.
We also have a dance between Saturn and Neptune in 2025 but they do not become exact until they are both at 0 degrees Aries. This is a very significant point – it is the world point and suggests something particularly important on a global level. Both planets are involved in boundaries – Saturn wants to create them whilst Neptune wants to dissolve. Might we move closer to a one-world governance at this point in time.
So in the 2020’s we see two major conjunctions both at 0 degrees of a sign. This is unusual and I think we are heading towards unusual and unpredictable times.
I think there will indeed be much to see on the level of space travel and colonization, extra terrestrial existence and an explosion in artificial intelligence. Before then we still have more to be uncovered in the Pluto in Capricorn period. However, we must bear in mind that it would be a bit like predicting the internet before we knew anything about it. So I think we are likely to see an explosion in robots taking over from humans in various places of work – what will the humans do instead I ask myself. The last time Pluto was in Aquarius was in the 1700’s just before we saw the Industrial Revolution. That was a time of inventions of machinery, which would make greater production possible. We must bear in mind that Aquarius has a reputation for aloofness and detachment – so we will see human looking robots but devoid of empathy or heart. But with a Saturn/Neptune conjunction on the world point will we see a blurring of the boundaries between robot and human? Is there something in the collective that will make the robot a more conscious entity? Or in the search for greater and greater technology will we find we have lost the point of being human – our hearts and souls?
Driverless cars are likely and even a hybrid version is possible that can both drive and fly. Robots are likely to take over many jobs that are currently done by humans. But it is not inconceivable that the big news will be on the technology, extra terrestrial and space fronts. Maybe even an invasion of the spiders from Mars!!!!!