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A rep from DARPA, the military’s experimental research wing, wore a sequined blazer and horned top hat.A spindly Spock impersonator milled around the edges, looking sternly into the distance. At a typical tech conference, a “moonshot” is a metaphor for a new monetization plan or a bold marketing strategy.
The only in-flight beverages on the 11-seat private jet were bottled water and a genetically modified bacterial slurry designed to prevent the worst effects of hangovers.
A handful of passengers on the short evening flight from Hawthorne to the edge of the Mojave — venture capitalists, a man with a mushroom-based manufacturing company and this reporter — downed the mixture.
The pilot, along with two senior Space X engineers, politely declined.
At the Apple Valley Airport, a helicopter waited to take us beyond a far ridge, farther from civilization.
Miles from paved roads were two tents, a ring of shipping containers and an “H” painted on the dirt marking a makeshift helipad.
One hundred miles to the southeast, masses of festival heads were gathering in the desert for Coachella’s first April weekend.
As the sun set and the stars began to show in the desert sky, John Cumbers, the event’s impresario, gathered everyone into the main tent.
His research into inducing temporary comas for long-distance space travel had earned him an opportunity at NASA, but he had moved away from space to build a networking business for the synthetic biotech business.
Chris Mc Kay, a 30-year NASA veteran and one of the leading proponents within the agency for building permanent human settlements off Earth, was a little less bullish.“When John invited me, I came without even knowing what this was,” he said.
“And if I knew, I probably wouldn’t have come, because I’m representing the old guard, I’m representing NASA scientists.”When Mc Kay said he wasn’t interested in generating revenue from the moon or Mars, the crowd booed.