In a conversation the other day, the argument came up that most people aren’t excited about space because it doesn’t affect their lives directly. Sure, people are a lot more excited about the next big movie or phone, but take a look at a lot of the big exciting projects at say, Google (to name a salient example of a company that is very good at generating public excitement.) In reality it’s going to be as long before fully-self-driving cars are a normal consumer item as it will before wealthy people can stay in space hotels.
The difference is the perception given to the public – whereas people are given excellent visions of how the Google car will affect them, the same is not the case for developments in space exploration.
The problem as I see it is a perfect storm of both too much honesty and too much dishonesty. It feels like there’s the worst of both situations, where the smart people working on actually awesome stuff are brutally honest and perhaps a bit pessimistic in their assessments. At the same time, the people on the other side of the tinfoil hat line far over-promise and jade the public. Thus, from two sides excitement is damped out.
This raises the question going forward – “how do we bring space [exploration] into people’s lives?” I’m confident that once many people feel like they have space in their lives, there will be much more support for bringing many people into space.