Many wealthy people are currently striving for space with their rockets. But what drives them? And how useful is that much money in turning old desires into reality?
When is a man a man? Such as Herbert Grunmeyer When this question was first pressed into the microphone in 1984, one of his answers was: “Men make rockets.” At that time, in the final phase of the Cold War, the German singer could not have guessed that today’s billionaire Richard Branson, Elon Musk Jeffrey Bezos had their kids’ idea of space in their heads and actually implemented it at some point.
Photo series with 11 photos
I left “I’ve dreamed of going into space since I was five years old” AmazonCEO Bezos knew the public when he announced his first rocket flight with his brother on July 20, 2021. Branson’s mother always taught young Richard to “never give up and reach for the stars” and Tesla– Elon Musk recently spoke about his childhood: “I was always busy making explosives, reading books, making rockets, and doing things that could’ve killed me.”
Elon Musk founded his own space company SpaceX With the aim of colonizing Mars and achieving interplanetary flights. It is unclear when and if this will happen, but at least his ships are supposed to head to the moon on behalf of NASA to fly. Richard Branson, President Virgo GalaxyFrom the beginning, they wanted to bring space tourists into Earth’s orbit. On July 11, he wants to be the first billionaire to begin the maiden space flight of his VSS Unity spacecraft. Jeff Bezos space company blue origin Launch New ShepardRocket Laid out on July 20. Here, too, the director wants to be on board personally. The Branson and Bezos projects in particular are a potential trigger for the beginning of ongoing private regulation الخاص space tourism.
With the “VSS Unity” space shuttle, the team of six around billionaire Richard Branson will go into space. (Source: Virgin Galactic)
Rich narcissists who want to differentiate themselves
In light of all these costly space plans for the wealthy, one can quickly get over the idea that narcissistic personalities are simply looking for maximum differentiation from normal people: stay on the ground, we prefer to look around upstairs. Go ahead to distinguish yourself. It might even make you forget the weight of your immeasurable fortune for a few minutes in a state of weightlessness.
A little kitchen psychology can be amusing. But the three CEOs are primarily concerned with the tough business. One day, billions of dollars could be transferred through space tourism. According to the Swiss bank ups It is already worth more than $244 billion for the space tourism industry.
Marketing Deer – Hoax Race to Space
As in most life, it is about prestige. But also about profitable orders, as well as orders. and wealthy passengers. In a Bezos “New Shepard” rocket on July 20, next to his brother and former astronaut Mary Wallace “Wallace” Funk, 82, a hitherto unknown person reportedly paid $28 million for his space. a ticket. At some point, maybe ten years from now, not only the super-rich but also the “ordinary rich” should be able to buy a ticket. So there are enough reasons to start marketing the machines along with the engines.
Strictly speaking, the Branson machine that now launched “VSS Unity” is more a rocket-powered aircraft than a missile in the classic sense. It can be debated whether he and Bezos actually flew into space given the 80 and 100 kilometers of planned flight altitude. But the marketer’s yearning for a renewed “space race,” the race to space, seems too great for the media to want to let go of this historical comparison to the 1950s and 1960s.
The PR power amplifier may have been ignited with the “Space Race”. In any case, none of this is a true “billionaire race”. Elon Musk doesn’t (yet) want to fly with SpaceX himself. The first manned flight was funded by a missile IS November 2020. But at least: With Branson and Bezos, the two leaders fly with them.
Gone are the days when the Russians and Americans, as astronauts and cosmonauts, fought a proxy competition for systems. After all, the uninvited happens on the International Space Station China He set out to build his “heavenly palace,” the modular Tiangong Space Station, in Earth orbit. But the great era of government space projects such as the US Apollo program or the space shuttle programs is over. NASA is not alone in using private companies for a long time. The Russian space agency Roscosmos also brought tourists to the International Space Station in the early 2000s with the US company Space Adventures.
Blue Origin’s latest test: Jeff Bezos plans to fly into space on July 20 with a New Shepard rocket. (Source: Blue Origin)
What is the point of all this?
One thing is clear: the projects of Bezos, Musk and Branson have the potential to give the private space economy a huge boost. You are the standard. If they fail, even their earthly ventures will fail in doubt. Not only was Elon Musk criticized once, but his ambitious plans for Mars trips nearly meant the financial end of Tesla. After all, in the meantime, he moved away from the idea of turning Mars into a second Earth with an atmosphere. But a self-sufficient Martian colony is what he seems to be still dreaming of.
Which raises an important question: What is the point of all this?
cleverly use billionaires For their business models, the magic that infinite spaces have imposed on humanity for so long. But to discover strange worlds, unknown life forms, and new civilizations, it takes more than a boy’s dreams, that is, at least the speed of light.
The neighboring Alpha Centauri solar system is located 40 trillion kilometers from Earth. With a speed of light of about 300,000 meters per second, it will be there after 4.3 years (light years). How rockets from Elon Musk’s SpaceX can come close to reaching such cosmic speeds is written in the stars. Whether there will be a habitable planet out there is completely open.
Elon Musk regularly celebrates successes with SpaceX: for example with the successful launch of the “SN15” spacecraft from the company’s Space Center in Texas in May 2021. (Source: imago images)
Environmental issues and other mundane matters
So maybe you solve problems on your planet first? Fans of the expansion of the private space economy love the fact that seeing the world from above can have one thing in common. The more influential people see this, the more likely there is something like Climate change Will you fight sustainably? Climate change has never been such a global issue. It seems to many outdated and decadent that launching rockets with fossil fuels drives tourists into space.
“What I find difficult is that they themselves do not understand how divisive their behavior is, on the one hand doing something well, but on the other hand removing it again,” said Paul Peters, professor of sustainable tourism and transport at Breda. University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, recently “Politico” spin-off “E&E News”. This is a “risky business”, at least for the environment.
In SWR, philosopher and book author Christoph Quark spoke about the “pre-pubertal mistakes” of the three billionaires. Motto “My missile can last longer than yours and I am faster than you”. Space ambitions are irresponsible for him from a climate protection standpoint.
Is there nothing more important in the world?
The complexity of the industry, which is not currently a major factor in the goals of the Paris climate agreement, is difficult to quantify, because companies do not provide accurate data on their emissions. But in the end, governments, as regulators, are likely to play an important role. Will rockets one day be able to fly using electronic fuel or green hydrogen? This would be conceivable, but it would again be associated with high costs and high security requirements.
The question of social justice can also be raised. While Amazon, for example, is repeatedly accused around the world of paying too little in taxes and poorly paying employees, the president and the world’s richest man are making his dreams skyrocket to the super-rich.
David Beasley, head of the World Food Programme, tirelessly reminds us that we must finally end hunger on Earth. Recently, he tweeted to Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos, “I’m so excited to see who gets to space first! But I’d rather see you team up to save 41 million people who will starve Earth this year! It only takes $6 billion.” We can solve this quickly!”
The three space travelers had yet to answer him. Perhaps the scale of mundane mediation is too small. It’s about something bigger and maybe a little bit bigger about Three Guys and their egos.