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Technology Space Billionaires, Please Read the Room

08:20  08 july  2021
08:20  08 july  2021 Source:   theatlantic.com

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Dear billionaires , no one cares whom you beat to space . After Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, announced that he would join the first crewed flight by his rocket company, Blue Origin, later this month, Richard Branson just couldn’t let him earn the title of first billionaire in space . So now Branson, merely the world’s 589th richest person, is joining the crew of his next Virgin Galactic flight on Sunday, nine days before Bezos goes vertical. All of this to go to “ space .” Branson will go only about 50 miles up, where the military says space starts.

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos (left) wants future generations to live in space colonies, while fellow tech mogul Elon Musk (right) thinks we should colonize Mars. Neither seems very likely, says author Fred Nadis. NY Post photo composite/Mike Guillen. Now the future of space is largely in his and the hands of other free-spending, big-dreaming billionaires like him, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. But what will this future look like? Some answers can be found in the new book “Star Settlers: The Billionaires , Geniuses, and Crazed Visionaries Out to Conquer the Universe” (Pegasus Books) by Fred Nadis, out

  Space Billionaires, Please Read the Room © Getty; The Atlantic

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Dear billionaires, no one cares whom you beat to space.

After Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, announced that he would join the first crewed flight by his rocket company, Blue Origin, later this month, Richard Branson just couldn’t let him earn the title of first billionaire in space. So now Branson, merely the world’s 589th richest person, is joining the crew of his next Virgin Galactic flight on Sunday, nine days before Bezos goes vertical.

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In the past decade, the privatization and commercialization of space flight has become a reality, with companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic (SPCE), and Astra (ASTR) looking to turn the final frontier into a lucrative industry. “As Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos prepare for their personal missions into Astra, which began trading publicly on the Nasdaq on July 1, aims to catalyze a new low-Earth orbit space economy in order to improve connectivity and life on Earth. Though many space companies like SpaceX still remain private, Astra went public after completing a SPAC merger last week.

The launch of Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc's VSS Unity rocket plane over the desert will mark the space tourism company's fourth crewed test mission beyond Earth's atmosphere. (Reuters) - As Virgin Galactic finalizes plans for founder Richard Branson to join five others on a test flight to the edge of space on July 11, the British billionaire said his wife may be nervous about the launch but he himself wasn't the least bit afraid. "I've been looking forward to this for 17 years," Branson said in an interview on Tuesday from Spaceport America near the remote town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

All of this to go to “space.” Branson will go only about 50 miles up, where the military says space starts. Bezos will go 12 miles higher, just past the internationally recognized Karman Line, but he’ll be there for only four minutes.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 10: Sir Richard Branson speaks during the © Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 10: Sir Richard Branson speaks during the "Unstoppable Weekend" kick off event at Elia Beach Club at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on June 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

Could there be a worse time for two über-rich rocket owners to take a quick jaunt toward the dark? Especially in the United States, the climate crisis is now actually starting to feel like a crisis. The western U.S. is in the thick of fire season, experiencing record-breaking drought and temperatures. Last week, Bezos’s hometown of Seattle hit 108 degrees. Hurricane season is starting early, and a once-in-200-years flood just ravaged northern Mississippi. Oh yeah, then there’s the pandemic that is very much still not over. Anyone would want a break from this planet, but the billionaires are virtually the only ones who are able to leave.

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Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has invited eight members of the public to join him for a trip around the Moon on Elon Musk's SpaceX flight. "I want people from all kinds of backgrounds to join," he said in a video via Twitter, where he also shared a link to application details. He said he will pay for the entire journey, so those who come onboard will fly for free. The mission, called dearMoon, is scheduled to fly in 2023. Applicants need to meet two criteria: they should advance "whatever activity" they are in to "help other people and greater society in some way", and are "willing to support other crew

The billionaire space race is heating up. Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson is reportedly weighing how he can beat Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to space next month. Bezos, who has a net worth of about 1 billion, announced on Monday that he and his younger brother will be among the passengers on Blue Origin’s first crewed flight to the edge of space on July 20.

Leaving Earth right now isn’t just bad optics; it’s almost a scene out of a twisted B-list thriller: The world is drowning and scorching, and two of the wealthiest men decide to ... race in their private rocket ships to see who can get to space a few days before the other. If this were a movie, these men would be Gordon Gekko and Hal 9000—both venerated and hated. Maybe, I don’t know, delay the missions a bit until people around the world are no longer desperately waiting for vaccines to save them from a deadly virus.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 9:  Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, Blue Origin and owner of The Washington Post via Getty Images,  introduces their newly developed lunar lander © Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 9: Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, Blue Origin and owner of The Washington Post via Getty Images, introduces their newly developed lunar lander "Blue Moon" and gives an update on Blue Origin and the progress and vision of going to space to benefit Earth at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

To their credit, the two billionaires aren’t totally oblivious. In recent years, Branson has proposed a climate dividend, while Bezos has pledged to spend $10 billion on climate efforts, though we still don’t know where most of that money will go. But given what humanity has been through in the past year and a half, I can’t help but wonder, what are they thinking? (I reached out to both Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic for comment and neither company responded. Branson has insisted that he is not in a competition with Bezos.)

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Billionaire software executive Charles Simonyi spent tens of millions of dollars on trips to the International Space Station, but something completely different gets him up in the morning nowadays: going to work at Microsoft to create a better digital whiteboard. The 71-year-old Microsoft veteran confessed his love of whiteboards on Wednesday evening during a Hacker News Seattle Meetup. "Is it the most important thing in the world? Probably not," he told the standing- room crowd.

Seriously, how beautiful is The Room App in HD guys? Stunning atmosphere by Fireproof Games and Fireproof Studios Ltd. Zoom in on the top of the safe to view the note by AS. What are these curious orbs? Notice when you move your device around the orbs will move too. That is your clue and hint for The Room App. The orbs are linked to the gyroscope on your iPad, iPod touch, iPhone or Android device.

And it’s not just them that make this display feel so gross. Their fellow billionaire Elon Musk (currently the No. 2 richest person, if you’re keeping track) may not be far behind in his own space travels and is in the midst of ruining the night sky with his mega-constellation of satellites. While Bezos and Branson will be in space—I mean, “space”—for just a few minutes, their departure is yet another reminder of all the other earthly things they can avoid that the rest of us can’t. Billionaires have purchased private islands, built underground bunkers, and gotten LASIK to prepare for not having glasses during the climate apocalypse. They can’t truly escape Earth now, and they likely never will, but they can avoid helping make this planet better.

SpaceX CEO and owner Elon Musk celebrates after the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. May 30, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Nesius     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY © REUTERS/Steve Nesius TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SpaceX CEO and owner Elon Musk celebrates after the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. May 30, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Nesius TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

However, even after their trip past the atmosphere, the space billionaires still have to come back here and face the world. When they are pushed upward into the sky, they will live-stream their experience, their bodies briefly floating, staring out at the curvature of our delicate and beautiful planet, all of us invisible. Will leaving Earth change them?

This is one of the universal sentiments that astronauts express once setting foot back on the ground: Looking at Earth, from up above, gives you a different perspective, enough to shift something inside. “The thing that really surprised me was that [Earth] projected an air of fragility,” the Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins said. “And why, I don’t know. I don’t know to this day. I had a feeling it’s tiny, it’s shiny, it’s beautiful, it’s home, and it’s fragile.” Maybe this quick trip really will change the billionaires, but I’m not counting on it. After all, they’re only going to “space.”

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This is interesting!