New York TimesJuly 22, 2021 15:31:17 IST
Apollo’s lunar landing anniversary was a small step in space travel, but a big leap for space millionaires.
Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson vividly showed this month that it’s safe to soar near the sky and, above all, look like a lark. The planet has so many problems that it’s safe to escape them even in the 10 minutes of orbital vehicle length provided by entrepreneurs through their respective companies, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic.
But beyond the dazzle, there was a deeper message: the Amazonization of the universe has begun in earnest. What used to be a big government territory is now becoming an increasingly big tech territory. Those who sold you the internet will now sell you the moon and stars.
Amazon founder and still the largest shareholder, Bezos, revealed at a post-flight press conference on Tuesday that Blue Origin is open. Tickets weren’t generally available, but flight sales were already close to $ 100 million. Bezos didn’t disclose the prices for each, but added that “the demand is very high.”
The request was for Bezos’ widespread praise coverage that Branson was in New Mexico last week, even before the world’s media flocked to Van Horn, Texas. They saw a carefully coordinated event. The world’s oldest astronaut and the world’s youngest astronaut have closed with a $ 200 million charitable donation.
Even Elon Musk, the CEO of rival SpaceX and skeptical of Bezos’ cosmic dreams, felt forced to offer his congratulations. So did Branson. Branson first got the right to fly and brag. Musk went to see Branson off.
All this space activity is not only the beginning of something new, but also a replay of the 1990s. At the beginning of that decade, the Internet was a government property devoted to a small number of studies and communications. In the end, Bezos made it a place where everyone could buy things. Over the next two decades, technology has grown to become Big Tech, causing bipartisan fear that Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple are now too powerful.
Outer space may now embark on a similar journey from the frontier to large corporations.
For decades, NASA hasn’t had enough money to do something as grand as the Apollo program. The Trump administration ordered a return to the Moon by 2024. The Biden administration has approved the goal, but not the date. Even if that happens, you’ll need the help of companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. In contrast to the Apollo program of the 1960s, trips to the next month are outsourced.
Small space ventures are even more open to entrepreneurs.
“Looking at where the universe is today, especially when it comes to low earth orbit activity, it’s really similar to the early days of the Internet,” said Axiom, chief financial officer of startup Axiom, which aims to build its first commercial. West Griffin says. Space station.
The commercialization of space began during the dot-com boom of the 1990s, but it took much longer to bear fruit. This month’s flight is reminiscent of 1996, when the nonprofit X Prize announced the contest. Donate $ 10 million to the first non-governmental organization to build a reusable spacecraft that can take someone to an altitude of 100 kilometers (62.5 miles) and do it. Within 2 weeks again.
The 2004-winning design turned out to be SpaceShipOne, led by aerospace engineer Burt Rutan, who previously designed a Voyager plane that flies around the world without stopping or refueling. It was funded by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, who died in 2018.
Branson was also intrigued by the X Prize. He acquired the trademark “Virgin Galactic Airways” in 1999 and licensed SpaceShipOne technology. Branson wanted a larger version to be able to launch commercial flight within three years. Instead it took 17 years.
Like Meagan Crawford, managing partner of venture capital firm SpaceFund, the expanding ecosystem of start-ups can range from cheap launch technologies to small satellites to the infrastructure that makes up the gold rush’s vines and shovels in space. We are trying to commercialize the universe by building things. Put it down.
“People are looking around:’There is this solid space industry. Where did it come from?'” Crawford said. “Well, it’s systematically and deliberately built, and taking us here has been a lot of work over the last three decades.”
Investors invested $ 7 billion in 2020 to fund space startups, doubling the amount just two years ago, according to space analytics firm Bryce Tech.
“What we’re all trying to do now is what Jeff, Richard, and Elon did 20 years ago. It’s about building a business in space from the beginning and building a business on Earth. Aside from that, it just builds a great business. Astra CEO Chris Kemp said it’s a startup focused on providing smaller, cheaper, and more frequent launches.
The first Space Race, which grew in the 1960s and lost momentum in the 1970s, defeated the reckless US government against the malicious and unattractive Soviet Union. The Americans won the competition, but critics argued that it was all wrong in an era when so many domestic issues required attention and money.
this time? It’s personal now, but it’s almost the same. A petition demanding that Bezos not be allowed to return to Earth withdrew 180,000 virtual signatures. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat in Massachusetts, tweeted:
Musk tweeted the defense of a space project written in a concise style reminiscent of the poet EE Cummings.
Those who attack the universe
Maybe I don’t understand it
Space represents hope
For so many people
More than 250,000 likes were sent to the tweet, and the following answers were also received. “No one is attacking space. We are attacking a millionaire who has a huge fortune behind an exploited workforce.”
In an interview with CNN From the Texas launch site, Bezos said critics were “roughly correct” on Monday.
“We have to do both,” he said. “We have a lot of problems here on Earth right now, and we need to tackle them, and we always have to look to the future.”
But it’s clear which perspective gets his attention. As a high school graduate in 1982, Bezos talked about the importance of living in a huge floating space colony for millions of people. “The overall idea is to protect the planet,” Miami Herald quoted at the time, adding that his ultimate goal was to see the planet “turn into a huge national park.” I did.
Bezos said almost the same thing this week. It was a utopian dream with many complex moving parts. On a small scale, like the concept of a retailer who sells everything to everyone and delivers it in hours. And to the surprise of almost everyone, he did the job.
Branson launched another space sect, Virgin Orbit, which fires a small payload into orbit. He does not imply a grand vision like Bezos or a mask to spread civilization into the solar system.
Mask’s Martian dream began with a small strange quest. He wanted to send a plant to Mars and see if it could grow there. However, the cost of starting a small experiment was exorbitant. Even the Russian options were out of reach. So Musk founded SpaceX in 2002.
Today he wants to send people to Mars, not plants. SpaceX is currently developing Starlink, a satellite internet constellation aimed at generating enough Starship to travel and the profits needed to fund the Mars program. ..
As they pursued those goals, the company became a giant in the space business. NASA relies on SpaceX rockets and capsules to send astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station, and civilian, government, and military satellite operators are putting reusable Falcon 9 booster rockets into orbit.
NASA recently awarded SpaceX a contract to use a Starship prototype for its lunar program. The deal was challenged by Blue Origin and another company, Dynetics. For all the friendships on display this week, millionaires play to win.
David Streitfeld and Erin Wu c.2021 The New York Times Company
Space Travel Begins Amazonization with Private Players-Technology News, Firstpost
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