Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos inspects a booster on the trail of landing after a test flight. The billionaire successfully flew one of his New Shepard rockets into space on Tuesday. Blue Origin
Tuesday, founder of Blue Origin and Amazon, Jeff Bezos, became the second billionaire to visit the edge of space and do somersaults in microgravity, a week and a half after Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic space plane take off over New Mexico The voyages lasted a historic month in spaceflight, inspiring much awe and awe.
But perhaps an even more common reaction is a rolling of the eyes. hard accompanied by a few comments on wealth or obscene ego, or worse.
After years of watching SpaceX's Bezos, Branson and Elon Musk expand their empires beyond the firm grip of the gravity, I think such cynicism might be right, but it leaves the rest of us feelingn shoot. The spectacle of the billionaire space race also illuminates a sad truth about our future in space as a species: We have lost control of our own destiny in the cosmos.
Watch this: Watch the Blue Origin astronauts in zero gravity 1:43
Over five years a year ago, a the Las Vegas bettor gave Musk and SpaceX 5 to -1 odds of being the first entity to send humans to Mars. Odds of NASA being first were 80 to 1. At the time, I thought it was a bit silly considering that NASA had already sent people to the moon and SpaceX had just started sending cargo into orbit.
Half a decade later, those odds seem more reasonable: SpaceX is already prototypes of its Mars rocket launch and land pending the long-delayed debut of NASA's space launch system for missions to the moon and beyond.
On top of that, the average person is much more likely to know what Elon Musk and SpaceX are doing, and JeffBezos and Blue Origin, in space than it owes to NASA. often postponed plans for the moon, Mars or data James Webb Space Telescope .
The blame for this disparity in attention falls more directly on the shoulders of media people like me than on NASA. It doesn't help that the agency is at the mercy of a political system providing not only funding but also leadership, both of which can change drastically every few years.
So it's no surprise that entrepreneurs like Musk and Bezos were able to identify the void left by an aging and inefficient institution like NASA, seize the opportunity to build a better rocket and paint a bolder vision for the future.
And this is where the real problem liesto me. Musk's great ambition to populate Mars, and the data Bezos plan to move industry and maybe some new ones Luxury condos in Orbit, are efforts unprecedented at the level of civilization that were designed primarily on the whims of just two men.
Think about it. Chances now seem good that when the first member of our species sets foot on another planet, it will be because Musk, aka the "Dogefather " - the most big fan of 420 and 69 jokes - decided to do it.
This doesn't take anything away from Musk (well, maybe just a little).
Neither SpaceX nor Blue Origin immediately respondedndu to a request for comment.
A return to the public space
For me, complaining about the waste of billionaires 'money on the space when we have so many problems on Earth, is missing the point. What should be concerning, I think, is how the agenda and public discourse on space is now largely driven by some of the richest individuals in the world.
Perhaps the efforts of these men and their co-companies will bring profound benefits to mankind, but we could also decide as a company which ventures into the space to pursue for itself, for our own. Science
From the lab to your inbox. Get the latest science stories from each week.
Space could be the key to solving some of our biggest problems, whether through space solar energy , extraction of Asteroids or yes, turn Mars into a rescue planet. These are all pretty distant ideas, of course, but there are very few resources dedicated to researching their potential, which is how things start to seem less distant.
And by the way, the The history of space innovation suggests that it might not be so crazy to expect learning how to survive on the moon or on the moon. Mars can also teach us new ways to reduce our own impact on Earth's environment.
NASA has opened up the space frontier for Musk, Bezos and others to take over the production of rockets that appear to be more capable, efficient and cheaper than pi spacecraft.onniers funded by the state of previous eras. That's great. Now it's time for us folks to decide which boundaries we want to explore next, rather than waiting for another ric h dude to take the lead.