Billionaire Space Race
There is sort of a space race brewing once again, this time it is not between the USA and Russia, it is between billionaires, three of them are Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos, Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson, and SpaceX’s Elon Musk. Branson and Bezos are in a race to be first to launch paying customers on short spaceshots, with rival technological philosophies of space capsules and spaceplanes.
Branson and his spaceplane visited low Earth orbit last week and Bezos made his flight this morning in his New Sheppard spacecraft…
I hear the chatter amongst the supposed common civilians, in the tone of, “billionaire boys with their expensive toys…” Likened to the time when two software giants were bragging about who had the biggest yacht in the harbor.
This assessment of “rich boy toys,” is probably unwarranted in this case…
Other than the government, who else can afford regular unmanned/manned flights into space? Ultra rich people excited about space.
Rich guy civilian astronauts are not a new concept. In the 1980s, Peter Diamandis, founded an American national student space society, the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, an organization that Jeff Bezos later became a chapter president.
What does it all mean? It means that we are in the era of New Space.
The term “NewSpace” according to Wikipedia… emphasizes the relative modernity of private spaceflight efforts, encompassing international and multinational efforts to privatize spaceflight as a commercial industry. Such corporations fall under the governance of international treaties and national governments.
As NASA, ESA, and the other government space agencies around the world push towards returning to the moon, Mars and Beyond, a new era of “commercialized” space endeavors have opened up for private companies for adventures outside Earth’s atmosphere. A new space race is now brewing…
SpaceX has proven that launching satellites and manned-crew vessels into space can be financially feasible, thus allowing smaller companies opportunities of economical access to space.
Some may argue that billionaires are unable to garner the national enthusiasm that members of NASA have accomplished in the past… “Who cares if rich guys float around in low Earth orbit?”
My generation, those who grew up during Apollo and the Space Shuttle programs are use to seeing the huge corporations like Lockheed, Rockwell, and Boeing contracted to build the hardware, with NASA and the other world agencies in the forefront. The astronauts were the main stars.
Today, the members of NewSpace, like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are the stars, although they are in the consult of some of those veteran astronauts.
With the high visibilities of Bezos, Branson, and Musk, there is still public enthusiasm for this new space race.
What they are actually doing is truly significant, despite what the critic say. Even if they are mostly focusing on the commercial aspect of space, their type of competition usually leads to future innovations…
Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of STM Daily News, a part of the TNC Network.