Spaceflight maintains the current social order of unequal power and resources by isolating the elite
Billings 8 (“Space Flight Culture and Ideology” history.nasa.gov/sp4801-chapter25.pdf Linda is a research professor at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. She does communication research for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) astrobiology program in the Science Mission Directorate.)
This brief historical review has shown how the rhetoric of space advocacy has sustained an ideology of American exceptionalism and reinforced longstanding beliefs in progress, growth, and capitalist democracy. This rhetoric conveys an ideology of spaceflight that could be described, at its worst, as a sort of space fundamentalism: an exclusive belief system that rejects as unenlightened those who do not advocate the colonization, exploitation, and development of space. 56 the rhetorical strategy of space advocates has tended to rest on the assumption that the values of “believers” are (or should be) shared by others as well. Although the social, political, economic, and cultural context for space exploration has changed radically since the 1960s, the rhetoric of space advocacy has not. In the twenty-first century, advocates continue to promote spaceflight as a biological imperative and a means of extending U.S. free enterprise, with its private property claims, resource exploitation, and commercial development, into the solar system and beyond. This, among others, has addressed the problematic nature of these arguments: “the theses advanced to promote [solar system] settlement,” he noted, “are historical, culturally bound, and selectively anecdotal: that we need to pioneer to be what we are, that new colonies are a means of renewing civilization.”57 Spaceflight advocacy can be examined as a cultural ritual, performed by means of communication (rhetoric), for the purpose of maintaining the current social order, with its lopsided distribution of power and resources, and perpetuating the values of those in control of that order (materialism, consumerism, technological progress, private property rights, capitalist democracy). Communication research has shown how public discourses—those cultural narratives or national myths—“often function covertly to legitimate the power of elite social classes.”58 and this review has shown how the rhetoric of space advocacy reflects an assumption that these values are worth extending into the solar system.