A commenter to this blog has dismissed the recent achievements of Bert Rutan’s Spaceship One flight as being a waste of money, money which the commenter believes should not have been ‘wasted’ on such a venture and devoted to causes the said commenter no doubt deems a worthier object. We have been here before with this sort of criticism, of course with the Moon landings, with the rather obvious difference that the Apollo missions relied on taxpayers’ money, and not funds provided voluntarily by businessmen.
More generally, any innovative endeavour, or venture which may yield benefits not immediately graspable, can be dismissed and attacked as wasteful. The trial and errors of capitalism were dismissed by early socialist thinkers as wasteful, in contrast to their dreams of an efficient, centrally planned order. We know better now, of course. It hardly needs to be pointed out that on that logic, the first man who discovered how to make fire and spent hours chipping flints to make arrowheads was ‘wasting time’ in the eyes of his fellow cavedwellers, who no doubt wondered if he should be doing something more important.
And I am sure I speak for my fellow Samizdata contributors in hailing the excellent and sustained coverage by Dale Amon of the latest space flight ventures. It is a positive and exhilarating development and frankly, a tonic at a time of so much depressing news out there. So my message to the Luddites who carp, is simply this – you ain’t seen nothing yet.