Re: Betting against Elon Musk?
"enthusiasts who've watched a bit too much Star Trek and think it's humanity's religious duty to colonise uninhabitable planets in the name of Techtopia or some such"
you couldn't be more wrong about things.
Space exploration and the tech that enables it drives a lot of positive things back here on earth. Consider these for example:
a) rapid transit across the pond via suborbital flight [to replace Concorde, finally]
b) technologies that make orbital/lunar tourism affordable
c) one or more permanent '2001-ish' space stations, with multiple gravity levels
d) satellite repair [actually do what the Space Shuttle never could, bring it back for repair, re-launch later]
e) satellite refueling - fill 'er up with hydrazine!
and so on (not to mention 'collateral tech' like engines, fuel, electronics, miniaturization, power generation, yotta yotta)
100 years ago airlines were a dream, for the most part. The negativity of Tom Paine's post is probably similar to negativity "back then". I think we need to invest MORE in space. Apparently so do Musk, the board of directors at Lockheed, and others.