Space as a refuge for humanity, from Russian thinkers to Silicon Valley

The history of a concept. Colonize space to save humanity. This is one of Elon Musk’s projects, probably the one closest to his heart. Besides, Twitter is just a hobby. The billionaire is also the owner of SpaceX, a company that specializes in spaceflight and spaceflight with a clear slogan: “Mars and Beyond, the Path to Multiplanetary Humanity”. According to Elon Musk, we are not far from it. In 2022, he hinted that SpaceX would launch a crewed mission to Mars in 2029. And he’s not the only one targeting stardom: Google, Amazon, and even tech billionaire Peter Thiel are all investing in Escape Earth.

This dream is widely circulated in Silicon Valley. It translates some of the values ​​that are unique to California, where a culture of creativity and opportunism is mixed. The space colonization imagined by the high-tech world has an astonishing history, even allowing itself to bypass Russia.

In fact, the project is partly based on a reinterpretation of Russian Cosmism, an ethos that emerged at the end of the 19th century.electronic century. “Philosopher Nikolai Fedorov [1829-1903] The movement was founded on the idea that technological developments would eventually make Christianity possible, with the ambition to conquer death. Russia then went through difficult times marked by famines and numerous wars. Fedorov wants us to bring back all the dead, and their particles will be everywhere around us. But Earth will not be able to accommodate all these populations, so it will be necessary to colonize other planets.Physicist Rudolph Biérent explained that he was Cosmic order. 19th century Russian avant-gardeelectronic century (Press Factory, 2019).

universe survival

Elon Musk likes to quote a scientist who had contact with Fiodorov in his youth. Constantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935), considered the father of spaceflight, left behind a formula that is admired by Twitter bosses today: “The earth is the cradle of mankind, but you cannot spend your life in the cradle. »

Tsiolkovsky worries about the extinction of the sun and the loss of Earth as a habitable planet. The eternity of the universe provides the possibility of survival for human beings. Therefore, he also believes that it is necessary to explore the universe.

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But how did those ideas get to California? “The West Coast is a place where people take pride in what they do, not what they read. A unique culture is built there, made up of shared representations that everyone embraces without knowing its origins. The conquest of space is one of Silicon Valley’s main narratives.” one”recalls Fred Turner, a professor at Stanford University (California).

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