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The world is reeling under the heel of a global pandemic. War, famine and racism are just as prevalent as they were 20 years ago, and the environment is trying to kill us. It’s a tough time to be human, that is, unless you’re in the Billionaires Boys Club. 

Blue Origin's New Sheppard Rocket
Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, three of the planet’s richest men, have been flexing their funds in their own personal space race. The billionaires have been using some of their own money — and a lot of American taxpayer money to build (and in many cases blow up) bigger, better rockets, figure out new ways to make commercial space travel attainable and in Branson and Bezos’s cases, strapping on spacesuits of their own to cosplay as astronauts.

SpaceX founder Musk fired the first shot in this latest iteration of the space race, famously using a test launch of his companies Falcon Heavy rocket to send his personal Tesla roadster into an orbit which will have it cross paths with Mars, a planet Tesla has been the lead evangelist for colonizing for nearly two decades. But it was the brash British founder of Virgin Galactic, Branson, who took things to the next level.

On July 11, he and his team lifted off from the company’s Spaceport America (near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico) its VSS Unity spaceplane, becoming the first of the billionaires to pop their space cherry. Amazon founder Bezos wasn’t far behind. His Blue Origin team’s New Sheppard rocket took to the air Tuesday morning, with his brother also along for the ride, to ensure Bezos could no longer be called a space virgin. It was an act he immediately thanked the customers and employees of Amazon for paying for shortly after arriving back on terrra firma. 

So, what’s next? Well, Virgin Atlantic and Blue Origin hope to launch passenger flights in the coming year. Origin hasn’t revealed its prices yet, but several media outlets have reported that Galactic flights may cost around $250,000 per ticket. 

Musk seems content with his legs on the ground for now, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t join the cosmic Three Comma Club soon enough. If Bezos’s rocket is any indication — this race might be more about much smaller things than benefiting humanity.


 

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