Hmmmmm…

Anousheh Ansari is safely back on Earth, and still blogging. I strongly recommend that you read everything she has written; her style is lucid and heartfelt, she includes detail and emotion that most astronauts to date have not, and she really conveys the feeling of ‘being there’. If you are interested in space, you will enjoy her blog.

But Shubber Ali of the Space Cynics blog would like us all to take a deep breath (or a cold shower) and get some perspective. Of Ansari’s flight, he says:

This isn’t HISTORIC.
It WON’T get you to space.
She’s RICH, you AREN’T.
She isn’t the first person to BLOG.

Normally, I appreciate the Space Cynics for providing some much-needed counterpoint to all the starry-eyed optimism out there, but on this occasion I think that Shubber has missed the point by a country mile.

You only have to look at the hundreds – and hundreds – and hundreds – of comments. Shubber looks at them and is annoyed by the hyperbole. I look at them and see a great many people, and not just the ‘usual suspects’ pouring out their passion for space. It’s not “Anousheh worship” – she just struck a chord, and reached people in a way that NASA and the other space agencies have never managed to do.

People care about this stuff – people outside the space advocacy community. Give them even the smallest whiff of it, in the personal and accessible way that Anousheh Ansari has, and look at the outpouring that resulted. The overwhelmingly positive response to her flight has been surprising (to me, anyway). I didn’t think that people would care that another rich person flew to space. I’m sure that the blog, and Anousheh’s intimate and evocative descriptions of her experience, are the key. In that, she is unique; I don’t know of anyone else who has related her space experience as powerfully as Anousheh.

As I said, normally the Space Cynics provide a very useful reality check. On this occasion though, Shubber’s response comes across as sour grapes. He’s right that Anousheh’s trip is just one rich woman’s extreme vacation, but he’s looking at the wrong thing.

The point is not that Anousheh is somehow special because she flew to space. What is special is how she has reached people, and tapped into a strong and positive undercurrent of public feeling about space. We need more of that.

3 thoughts on “Hmmmmm…

  1. I had the exact same feeling on reading S. Ali’s comments on the Anousheh Blog–his comment verge so close to personal attacks I have to wonder from where that virulence sprang. As I noted in the comments there, I don’t recall reading a Tito Blog. Anousheh Ansari cast a spell during her trip, and her connection to every person on the planet interested enough to click a link was the source of her magic.

  2. “This isn’t HISTORIC.” – Perhaps, but at the very least it is extremely rare (6.5 Billion non-Astronauts/non-Scientist vs. a handful of them going into orbit)

    “It WON’T get you to space.” – The more interest there is in going to space, the more likely there will be “retailers” (vs. “commercial”) springing up to provide the service. As you know, when supply increases, price falls – the lower the price, the more likely it will be that I WILL get into space.

    “She’s RICH, you AREN’T.” – See economics lesson above.

    “She isn’t the first person to BLOG.” – True, but as stated above, it is very rare for someone who has traveled to space to BLOG.

    In short, Anousheh has a perspective that cannot be matched by people like Mr. Ali. Perhaps his envy is the source of his virulence.

  3. As you know, when supply increases, price falls – the lower the price, the more likely it will be that I WILL get into space.

    Now that a year has gone by, let’s look back at that price of a ride to ISS….

    Oh, my. It’s now at $35m and climbing. What was that again about the price of access going down..?

    In short, Anousheh has a perspective that cannot be matched by people like Mr. Ali. Perhaps his envy is the source of his virulence

    It wasn’t virulence, it was common sense – and, as I rightly predicted, people lost interest and are focused again on Brittany’s latest issues with child custody.

    Sad, but true.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Help

WordPress theme: Kippis 1.15