Off to Space
On Tuesday July 20, Jeff Bezos launched into space accompanied by his brother, Dutch 18 year old Oliver Daemen, and 82 year old aviator Wally Funk. After Virgin Galactic’s founder Richard Branson took his trip to the edges of space, Jeff Bezos entered the billionaire space race. Bezos’ company Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are striving for the same goal in commercial space travel: a short weightless experience outside of the atmosphere. There are other key players in the industry known as NewSpace, such as Elon Musk with SpaceX and Russian tech investor Yuri Milner.
A slight difference in the flights is the methods used by the two companies. Virgin Galactic opted for a space plane that is air launched, or carried by another aircraft that eventually releases it in the air. The space plane took a spiraling descent and had a 59-minute flight in total. Blue Origin’s rocket used the New Shephard Booster, a more traditional rocket booster launched from the ground and the passengers were in an attached capsule. Blue Origin’s flight was significantly slower, at 10 minutes, but reached a higher point of travel at 62 miles, compared to Virgin Galactic’s 53 miles.
A Deeper Meaning
With the future of commercialized space travel quickly becoming a reality, these journeys into space are demonstrations of the transition of space control from big governments to companies in Big Tech. Bezos announced that “the demand is very very high” for these flights, with sales approaching $100 million with Blue Origin open for business. With a new buzz around space, the space race of the 1990s is brought to mind. At that time, the internet was also government developed and entirely devoted to important and groundbreaking research and communication. Now, it has become the world’s marketplace through Amazon, and other Big Tech companies such as Facebook, Google, and Apple. Now, space exploration and travel stands on the edge of the same cliff, from only being accessible to private government departments to being commercialized by tech giants.