Justina Ireland’s story, “A Theory of Flight,” imagines a future in which one woman recognizes the barriers of getting to space, so she takes the issue into her own hands with an open-sourced rocket, kickstarting a revolution to open up the skies to everyone.
The Verge spoke with Ireland about representation in space travel and why the practice feels like it will be inherently unequal in the future.
I’m a huge fan of Ray Bradbury’s story Way in the Middle of the Air, in which a group of Black people eagerly flee a Southern town abroad a rocket that’s bound for Mars.
Photo by Eric Ireland The character Carlinda wants to open up space travel to everyone — not just those who can afford it.
And then we have put into place numerous policies to make sure people from those areas don’t succeed, even if they should manage to leave those places.
And when one or two people manage to beat the system, we hold them up as paragons of success, as though their achievements mean that the other unfair policies were justified.
What is your view of the current efforts to get to space through private companies like SpaceX or Blue Origin and public organizations like NASA?
Relying on a private company to fund space travel for the public good is like giving a fox the keys to the hen house.
And public organizations most often have an eye toward space travel, not for the common good of its citizens, but for military advantage, colonization, or to please large donors, which takes us back to the issues above.
Honestly, the best hope for space travel that is equitable and fair are groups focused on just such a mission.
I believe, like other advances in technology, it will take open-source efforts by scientists and engineers to truly move space travel forward in a meaningful way for the majority of people.
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