What’s The Dress Code When Someone Returns From Space?

One of my all time favorite comedians, Ricky Gervais, tweeted this yesterday:

He later confessed he stole it from someone else, so all credit should go to the person who made it, honestly, Ricky was just a proxy for this. It fits well with his narrative and style, though. Although he didn’t make it, feels like a joke Ricky Gervais would make on stage.

Now, a bit of context.

Yesterday, the second commercial flight of Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’s space company, took 4 civilian astronauts in space, including William Shatner, as the oldest astronaut ever. Shatner, known as Captain Kirk, from StarTrek, is 90 years old. The entire flight was broadcasted live on YouTube, and I was glued to the laptop for its entire duration.

It wasn’t even that long, to be honest, just a little under an hour (the livestream is 3 hours, but the relevant part is less than one hour). I’ve seen feature movies longer than that, which didn’t keep me as glued to the screen as this live feed did.

And I decided to write about this today for at least 3 reasons:

  • first, I still laugh at the joke above. Imagine if we actually did this. Imagine William Shatner coming back to the ground only to find out that in his 10 minutes of zero G, the planet entered through a portal and it’s now inhabited by intelligent apes (as if we, humans, wouldn’t be also just intelligent apes).
  • second, because I find it absolutely astounding to be able to watch this. I was using Internet, a thing which was invented when I was in the military, watching a live feed from a co-working / coffee-shop space of a commercial space shuttle, carrying people at the edge of the Earth, in zero G. Absolutely incredible. I feel words are too small to express my bewilderment.
  • and third, because this is something good that came out of the Covid-19 pandemic. I know you didn’t see the connection, so that’s why I dedicated an entire paragraph to this reason

Danger Accelerates Technology

Space was already a thing before Covid-19. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos were already competing for huge NASA contracts to carry payloads and humans on the orbit.

But the global clusterfuck of this Covid-19 pandemic accelerated some technologies beyond their initial velocity. Pharma was obviously one of these accelerated tech clusters. Cryptocurrency adoption, as a direct consequence of the unstoppable inflation following the one year long lockdown of the entire world is another one. And space travel, as an unconscious desire to escape an environment which is suddenly feeling too small, too restrictive, is probably the one that we least expected to take off (in more than one way).

Humans are already feeling the Earth is not enough. It is still impossible to live on other planets, but the same feeling starts to creep in for Earth too: it’s becoming increasingly difficult to have a coherent existence, one that will keep together 7 billion of individuals (very soon 8 billion) on this planet. So we need something else.

We still don’t know what it is or how it will be. But there is very obvious tendency to escape the old structures and literally find another place, among the stars. Outdated concepts and lifestyles are abandoned now at an increased pace, just like a snake sheds its old skin.

Some of you reading this are part of the skin, some are part of the snake. I’m not making any judgment value about either choice. But I am seeing the separation is clear.

Two different populations, coming from the same root, will own this solar system in the next centuries, and although they will look relatively similar in shape and metabolism, their mental differences and technical capabilities will probably be just the same as the ones between us, and the apes that we may cosplay into, for the next civilian flight that will carry a StarTrek celebrity.

Which, in all honesty, I hope it will be Jean Luc Picard.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

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