The contents of the Voyager Golden Record -- a collection of natural sounds, spoken greetings from 55 languages, and musical recordings ranging from Senegalese percussion to Chuck Berry to Bach -- is a carefully-curated representation of human culture and the human environment that was sent to space in 1977.
And yet, our first encounter with intelligent life in space might be Justin Bieber, the latest celebrity to sign up for a trip on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic. Back in February, Bieber Tweeted that he wants to perform a concert in space. And why not?
Here's the big idea: There are a number of motivations to go to space. For national defense. For wealth accumulation. There is also the "pure" motivation to explore. In today's commercial space race, however, space tourism is becoming an increasingly important driver. We should embrace that. Just as business travelers essentially subsidize other travelers by paying the highest rates for commercial airfare, these celebrity boondoggles in space are funding the growth of NewSpace. And all humanity could benefit.
Let's just hope that the Voyager makes first contact, not Bieber.
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