Space Travel and Billionaires

Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk are 3 billionaires who are engaged in space research and more specifically space travel. Many think that a good thing. Is it? How good is it to exploit space for profit? If that question makes sense to you, you are not alone. Space exploration and the results it brings ought to be part of a national resource, belonging to the nation, that is to all of its people, and ultimately to humanity. Besides, space may not be conquerable the way some countries conquered others in the past or the way Russia walked into Crimea. True, it may be that those who endeavor to own space may not succeed in the end. In the meanwhile however, they are endeavoring to profit. Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space company announced it will make space travel available for $200,000 to $300,000 a trip and be able to start them in 2019. The New Shepard is slated to fly 6 passengers about 62 miles above the earth autonomously. The travelers will be able to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and then the pressurized capsule will reenter the earth by parachutes. One must admit such a trip will be quite an experience—Even a priceless one. And since each trip will cost about $10 million, it is obvious the venture will begin by operating at a loss. For all we know Jeff Bezos will use the same techniques he used with Amazon. Not only did Amazon for several years operate at a loss  too, Bezos also applied hard tactics to crush competitors.

Branson’s Virgin Galactic who is also planning space travel has already sold 650 tickets at $250,000 each. Elon Musk’s goal is slightly different, he says it is to enable people to live on another planet.

The issue is deeper than who can afford space travel, those who have means have always been able to afford things others can’t. The issue is the commercialization of space for profit.