From the Bunker: Texas Space Industry

So – viewers may not know this, but Texas is going through a bit of a Texas Space Renaissance right now. We just worked on a project related to this emerging space industry and in researching for that project we see that Mr. Bezos and Mr. Musk have facilities in the Lone Star State – and then of course – there’s Houston and Houston has several problems. [bad joke] New space industry things might even get cooking here in our town in the years that follow – that sounds fun and exciting.

But that got me thinking about the design surrounding the space industry – all that great mid-century stuff, the classic NASA logo, and then the 80’s version. Flight of the Navigator? Remember? The Last Starfighter? 

But then – after thinking about all that – and probably because I was still driving around in my 1980’s cold war Volvo wagon – I got to thinking about what is propelling all this new interest in space: it has felt sudden to me. Branson and the tycoons driving the space tourism hype, China launching satellites that can capture our satellites, etc. William Shatner vibing out the window looking at the cosmos.

What’s the rocket fuel behind this sudden, billions of dollars and yen drive for space. space. space?

Who really knows?

I will hazard a few guesses because this is Live from the Bunker and why not – last episode of the week month means I am definitely hazarding things in the studio this afternoon. Most definitely.

First – I researched a few bits about the mania/hysteria/thrill surrounding the first moon landing and I found that there was actually a COUNTER-narrative to the big hype and excitement. There were a small number of dissenters who didn’t like the idea of man defying our gravitational pull and entering the domain of the gods – by escaping our atmosphere we were (they posited) over-reaching our natural place in the cosmos. God had given us a designated sphere in which we were to live and exercise dominion and like the Tower of Babel – humans said – in genesis 11-, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” 5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So, there were conservative voices during the 1960’s who said – this is not good; it violates god’s cosmic order.

Fascinating. I had only heard of the ‘heck yeah, we put a man on the moon! Tang!’ I had only heard that part.

I remember that the space race produced all our hot new technology – it kick-started the digital revolution. Ironic when you consider that satellites in the heavens enable instantaneous human interaction and google auto translates pages. Whew! Kinda on the nose, that!

Then – follow the train of thought – I was listening to bands via youtube (I know, I know, but I do it all the time – when I’m working on stuff) – and I kept coming across ambient post-rock albums – playlists that is run by a bunch of internet doomers and it clicked: maybe the first wave of space exploration was about discovery and the delight of the possibilities found off terra firma – a positive orientation to knowledge and the unknown.


I wonder if this more recent push isn’t driven by negative orientation to our own planet. I mean that in several ways:

a) the environmentalist message says we’ve ruined this planet and we’re not going to reverse this gross mismanagement because humans are hopelessly short-sighted, corporate greed, etc. etc. That list of anger and frustration bullet points is quite long. Won’t delve into that here, just know that is one of the ways of looking at the need to jump off this rock.

b) biological evolution/post-modern philosophy says – simply living as big wet bags of protein, our biology is all we are so what can we do disperse or (seed) the cosmos with our DNA – the species must continue into the millennia ahead and the best hope for such a thing is to launch humans into the void – again because this world is screwed or we are most likely going to blow ourselves off our own planet – looking at you China!

c) the doomer playlist makers I mentioned on the internet keep talking about ‘exhaustion with our earth’ – a melancholy associated with over-exposure to all the possible inputs and still finding the void within! I’ve seen everything there is to see on the internet and I’m already over it! Perhaps the reach to escape our planet is also born of a kind of desperate rejection of the human experience itself on our little spinning rock.

I suppose what I’m getting at here is that escaping our world has a lot to do with what we think of this globe, our place on it, and how we conduct our days here. My brother who lives very far off, out of state – he and his buddy are thrilled at the prospect of space tourism. They can’t wait – they’re probably already saving money to make sure they launch one day. I don’t care for it. I’ll be perfectly content to never blast off from a launchpad. This earth and the relationships here, the work, the wicked cool graphic designs and the world-Maker Himself bring me enough delight on this green/blue planet that I never think – you know, I gotta get off this rock!

The historical design elements associated with NASA are so fun. I will link to a few things that we love – the invisible creatures design duo is a link you should check out.

It felt so alive and intoxicating and evoked wonder.

I am curious to see what kinds of design emerge in this later wave of space exploration – if it is built less on hope and more about escape – will it be as fun and inspiring?

We know so much more about our solar system now – the pizzaz just might not be there any longer.

Some space content for you to enjoy:

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