I’m really torn about the recent spate of billionaire rocket rides.
I do think there’s a need for space exploration.
But it feels like it’s turned into a “willie waving contest” as a Brit former co-worker put it. It’s about ego, and conquest… and commerce. (Get your tickets now!)
Our space icons are now the powerful owners of private companies, who have infused space travel with their own personal narratives and idiosyncratic ambitions. During the Apollo era, the most visible participants in the moon effort were the astronauts—Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins—men who were certainly venerated but who approached their task with the duty of soldiers. At this moment, the most visible participants are eccentric billionaires having rocket-measuring contests in public.Marina Koren, in this article in The Atlantic
They’ve certainly got the cash to burn. Perversely, the pandemic was like a booster rocket for their personal fortunes:
But it seems like such a waste of resources. I know some will counter that we have to look at the bigger picture, and that the know-how needed to put those flights into space will benefit all of us down the line.
But I don’t know how willing these titans of industry will be to share the secrets of their interstellar success. They’re more likely to try to corner the Milky Way market.
I’m actually aligned with another rich guy:
We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live.Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge
Can’t Musk, Bezos and Branson focus their billions on the 8 billion people on the single planet we all share, instead of taking Captain Kirk on a joy ride?
The “moon shot” we all need is a bit more down-to-earth.