• Bezos second billionaire in space after Branson
• Amazon founder reacts to criticism – understands it only partially
• Space tourism
should not remain a dream of the future
On July 20, Jeff Bezos landed safely back on earth after a short trip of about ten minutes in space. The 57-year-old Amazon founder and his fellow travelers had previously taken off in the spaceship “New Shepard” from Bezos’ company Blue Origin from the US state of Texas.
Exactly 52 years after the Apollo 11 mission
The fully automated flight took about ten minutes. After the spaceship accelerated to around 3,500 kilometers per hour and the capsule disconnected from the reusable rocket, weightlessness set in for the four passengers.
In addition to Bezos, the Dutch 18-year-old Oliver Daemen and Bezos younger brother Mark were also on board. 82-year-old Wally Funk was also allowed to be there. She was one of a group of women who had undergone the same tests as NASA‘s “Mercury” astronauts in the 1960s. However, the group was ultimately not allowed to fly into space. As reported by the Tagesschau, the reason for this was their gender. Daemen, who received the ticket from his father, is now the youngest person to have ever been in space – Wally Funk is the oldest to date.
Bezos had chosen a symbolic date for the start. Because exactly 52 years earlier, astronauts landed on the moon for the first time as part of the Apollo 11 mission. Although Virgin Galactic founder Branson preceded him with his space flight, Bezos was probably sticking to the launch date because of this date.
Criticism even before the start
Critics accuse space tourists of unnecessarily burning money without research interests and without considering the environment. Even before the start, Bezos had to face these allegations. Ric Geiger, a 31-year-old from Michigan, started a petition. The title: “Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth”. What started as a joke received great support. In the end, there were more than 160,000 people who had signed the petition by the time it took off. Geiger told CNBC that he also wanted to draw attention to the unequal distribution of wealth.
A CNN presenter spoke directly to Bezos about the criticism: “You are mostly right, but we have to do both,” said Bezos. So you have to solve the problems on our planet, but also think about the future and fly into space: “If we provide a path into space for the next generation to do incredible things there, these will become the problems on earth to be able to solve”. The richest person in the world left open what exactly these things could be.
The goal is space tourism
The billionaires hope to profit from the space tourism business soon. Both Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin want to offer trips into space for tourists in the future. But the tickets are not exactly cheap: At Virgin Galactic a ticket costs up to 250,000 US dollars, Blue Origin has not yet published any prices. In the long term, Virgin would like to be able to offer trips for $ 40,000. It should start next year.
Whether this is a big step for humanity remains to be seen.