Don't listen to the killjoys, they're wrong and they're the same people who have bleated on about this topic since the before John Glenn sat on top of a rocket and got shot into orbit. So here's a rant, in nine parts:
1. Space exploration -- both human and unmanned -- is important. Yes, it pushes the bounds of pure scientific knowledge about the origins of the planets and the universe and our Earth. But it also makes a big difference here on Earth where we've learned important things about our impact on the environment, global warming, agricultural improvements, biology, and mundane things like the GPS systems that let us get from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss.
2. SpaceX the company is about reducing the cost of shooting things into Earth orbit and into deep space. Yes, that comes with a dose of slick marketing, but the real measure of its success is cost/kg for orbital insertion.
3. The Falcon Heavy rocket or an equivalent is a necessary tool for shooting heavy things into Earth orbit or lighter things into deep space.
4. You gotta test rockets. You don't put a real payload on a test rocket. So sticking a $100,000 Tesla on the end of that rocket was every bit as scientifically valid as anything else they were going to do. A joyless lump of concrete would've served as well, I suppose. Would killjoy columnist have been happier about it?
5. Exploration and pushing boundaries is fun. It should be. And exploration and pushing boundaries is a necessary part of improving the human condition.
6. That $90 million didn't get shot into space. It got spent here on earth employing a variety of scientists, engineers, construction folk, etc. Those people then spent their salaries on other things, including taxes that could have been spent to fight poverty, hunger, etc. That's how the economy works. And yeah, we should spend more of our taxes on stuff like that. But economic activity and spending isn't a zero-sum game. Generating economic productivity creates more
7. Yeah, it was a nice jolt of publicity for Tesla cars. The truth is that SpaceX probably ain't gonna save the world. But stuff like the improved Tesla batteries and Tesla solar roof tiles might help move that world-saving needle, and selling cars helps to finance that stuff, too. Economies of scale lower production costs.
8. Some days my liberal amigos drive me nuts. Sometimes it's okay to say, "That was ridiculous, but kinda fun," without making a joyless lecture out of it. There's a lot of horrible stuff in the world. We still need to enjoy the good things. Appreciating the good is part of what makes us human.
9. Heavy Metal rules!!!!