As iconic Star Trek Captain James T Kirk, he traveled the universe for the good of mankind. The brief from nonagenarian actor William Shatner, real thrill ride off the planet today, however, it is much less about advancing the species than promoting the fortune of Blue Origin, the space company. private owned by Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos taking him there.
Booking arguably the most famous fictional space traveler in history for n 'face that the second crewed flight of the New Shepard rocket system got a large amount of positive that not even the enormous wealth of the the richest man in the world could have bought otherwise.
This 90-year-old Shatner is set to become the oldest human in space during the 11-minute ride with three more civilian passengers from a launch pad in the Texas desert is another welcome bonus for Blue Origin, the ailing Washington-based company that got bogged down this month in allegations of sexism and a toxic and bossy work culture ”including safety shortcuts.
Bezos, who refutes the claims, insists that short-lived shopping rides such as Shatner 's and the New Shepard's first crewed flight in July carrying himself and his brother Mark, are essential to his longer-term view of data move heavy industry from Earth into space.
The rocket, he said, and in particular its heavyweight sister, the much vaunted but New Long-delayed Glenn , are pioneering reusable spaceship that will transform the waywhose countries operate in space while driving down the costs traditionally financed by the government.
Yet alongside environmental concerns regarding the proliferation of rocket thrusters hungry, cynics see little technological or exploration value in so-called space tourism, in which multi-billionaire-owned companies such as Bezos, Virgin 's Richard Branson and the founder of Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX Elon Musk load breathtaking amounts for an excursion, even ephemother, to the stars.
For some analysts, Bezos and Branson's well-publicized escapades are big on attention-grabbing, but don't deliver little more than moments of weightlessness and the slightest glimpse of space within 70 miles of Earth, when NASA sent astronauts 250,000 miles to land on the moon in 1969.
"Human exploration is about the future, and space exploration is a long gamble on a very distant tomorrow. What kind of future will the billionaire space race foster? Wrote Scott Galloway, professor of branding and marketing at the Stern School of Business at New York University in his blog No mercy / no mischief .
"A hint: after his flight Bezos said :" I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you paid for it all. "He's right. We paid him. Eighty-two percentage of American households are Prime members.
"In the prime space future, we do not We 'll have no astronauts. We ' ll have egonauts. Whatever you think of space travel as a human enterprise, space tourism is a horrible enterprise. "
To some extent, at least, Bezos seems to agree.
In a datum interview with CNN in July, he was asked his response to critics who said such thefts were rides for the rich, and billionaires should better spend their time, energy and money solving problems on Earth.
"I say they are largely right. We have to do both," he said, adding that the Blue Origin 's mission was to "build a road to space for next generations to do amazing things there, and these amazing things will solve problems here on Earth.
With revenue passengers, Bezos is also at the forefront of a potentially lucrative industry that should be worth more than $ 2.5 billion by 2027 , and would have sold for $ 100M in Blue Origin Tickets , while Amazon continues to resist workers' unionization efforts and do facing criticism for the data link remuneration and" operating "conditions . The winner of an auction for a seat on their first flight, which withdrew later in due to "scheduling conflict ", paid $ 30 million.
"If Mr. Bezos was sincere in his intention to do something, he could raise his company's minimum wage to $ 20 an hour, "Galloway said.
Branson, quant to him, made his own. trip along the river 'space nine days before Bezos aboard Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity rocket , and opened sales for flights are expected to begin next year shortly thereafter.
Musk, whose company SpaceX already transports American astronauts to and from the International Space Station in partnership with NASA, is the only operator to send a private crew in orbit. The Inspiration4 mission , which raised more than 210 milliondollars for St Jude Children's Hospital, is considered a precursor to more ambitious plans like taking tourists to the ISS and around the moon.
The perceived lack of societal benefits of such flights prompted a Democratic politician, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, to propose a tax on space tourists and the companies that transport them.
"Space exploration is not a tax-free holiday for the rich. Just as normal Americans pay taxes when they buy plane tickets, billionaires who fly in space to produce nothing of scientific value should do the same, and then some, ”he said. he declared in a statement .
"I am not opposed to this type of spatial innovation. However, things which are done solely for tourism or entertainment, and which have no scientific purpose, should in turn support the public good. "