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Ground Control
Ground Control ›
By Savannah Mandel


Estimated Release Date Jul 2024

In the 1960s and ’70s, America spent $24 billion (around $150 billion in today’s dollars) to land humans on the moon and “win” the space race. And while humans took their first steps on an extraterrestrial landscape, protesters at Cape Canaveral asked: Why waste money on space when there are so many issues here on Earth?
More than 50 years later, an oligopoly of commercial space companies—SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic—has begun sending civilians into space. These civilians are the first generation of what will undoubtedly be an extensive family of space tourists. Commercial space companies aim to expand access to space, find new sources of energy, mine outer space resources, and conquer extraterrestrial lands. But their goals remain that of a capitalist and imperialist class, intent on new frontier profiteering.
Savannah Mandel uses cultural anthropology to trace the trajectory of the space industry as it faces the social, political, and economic repercussions of commercial space ventures head-on. In doing so, Mandel holds the space industry accountable for its actions by asking the same questions that some thought leaders asked in the 1960s:
Should we go? Is it worth it to send humans to space? What cultural outcomes will result from continued human space exploration and the colonization of other worlds? And last, what can we learn about our present selves by studying our most extreme visions of the future

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