The space race used to be between superpowers, but now it’s between the super-rich and everyone else. Last month, Jeff Bezos announced that soon after leaving behind the role of CEO of Amazon, he’d be leaving Earth, too
Bezos is taking a seat on his own space shuttle, New Shepard, on July 20. He has certainly earned it, in the sense that he has paid for it by starting the aerospace company, Blue Origin, that will bring him into outer space. Though he’s set to achieve his boyhood dream, he won’t be the first billionaire who has funded his own launch of a few fleeting moments in space.
Bezos’ boast was a siren song to fellow billionaires, and soon after going public with his plan in June, Richard Branson stepped in to say that more than a week before Bezos, he would be boarding his own Virgin Galactic VSS Unity for a spaceflight. On Sunday, he indeed became the first billionaire to win the space race. At this point, it would not be outside the realm of Elon Musk stunts to tweet that he’s also aboard his SpaceX Dragon.
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For anyone else who’s had enough of everything they can see on Earth and can afford to leave it behind, space tourism has finally arrived. For an astronomical price, you will soon be able to take a suborbital space cruise with Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic. If you want to go even farther, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will have a glass-domed observation deck available for the passengers it’s shuttling to the International Space Station for an eight-day stay at $55 million a piece. Just beware that while the risks of staying on Earth grow every day, those of going into space are too great for insurance companies to cover.
It was federal tax dollars that were the foundation of NASA. The collective coffers of the country put a man on the moon, and a half-billion people watched it on TV. The astronauts did not go in the stead of the rest of the planet; they were pioneers on behalf of the rest of the population.
Sir Richard Branson became the first billionaire in space after the launch of Virgin Galactic’s first full crewed flight, ushering in a new era of space tourism. Editor in Chief of Space.com, Tariq Malik, joins News NOW to share how the historic flight differed from traditional NASA launches and what’s next for the billionaire space race.