Space is being branded as a luxury product for the ultra-rich

Space is being branded as a luxury product for the ultra-rich

What does it mean to be nostalgic for outer space? Outer space supposedly summons images of the future and the beyond, hence its blatantly colonial fantasy nickname — the final frontier. Yet proposed travel to outer space these days is a backward-looking endeavor. The angel of history has become an astronaut.

In 2018, Donald Trump’s proposals for a U.S. Space Force are a redux of Reagan era “Star Wars” and its vision of omnipresent military might. Space entrepreneurs evoke a mythical heyday of unbridled growth from the wild, unregulated west.

I too am nostalgic for outer space, but for one that never existed in my time, before white men with lots of money or state power (or both) were the only way off the planet. And I am nostalgic for the wild-eyed optimism-of-the-will-and-spirit practiced by spooky heartthrob and sad(ly) federal agent Fox Mulder, who said — and I repeat — “I want to believe.”

I want to believe that there is a way to think about space differently. The conflation of space and outer space is intentional here: outer space is the place for us to think about the relationships and organizations of our lives here, on Earth, such that they might be resilient out there.

The speculative might be a persistent genre of popular interest in part because we intuit that the shape of our world, and now the shape of outer space, are formed from the speculations of financial capital. But against the machinations of banks and corporations, there have been other ways to imagine the future. The pictures we have been given of outer space and of who gets to go there are not the ones we have to accept.