Then we talked about the theoretical owners of Blue Origin tickets who will pay the amount of about 250,000 US dollars to become space tourists. I did not imagine that Bezos himself would be on that first flight. And, I guess, neither is he. But here we are where we are in the summer of 2021. The world is still in a pandemic, climate change is threatening huge parts of the planet, and the richest man in the world is watching us flee the Earth in 11 minutes. Just over a week ago, another billionaire, the owner of the space company, Richard Branson, hovered around in his own rocket ship, he taught the children of the world about the inspiration they should draw from his feat, and on his return he opened a champagne cork.
Bezos could say the point is on the run from Earth. Because while Blue Origin is enthusiastically starting its space tourism business tomorrow, Bezos was stressed that his long-term goal is something far beyond checking the “astronauts” off the list of wealthy customers. He believes that the destiny of humanity will direct us to huge space colonies, ultimately supporting a population of a trillion people. In the short term, especially in light of the fierce competition between Bezos and Branson, I wonder if that message could be lost, as civilian space travel becomes synonymous with the ability to pay or gain the favor of the one the broker has rockets.
I am writing this from the rural town of Van Horn in West Texas, which according to the signpost on Interstate 10, has 2,500 souls. This is my third time to this small desert town, which is filling up over its limited capacity for what everyone says will be a historic launch. The last time I watched the launch of Blue Origin here (although the only passenger was a test dummy named Mannequin Skywalker), so my cottage already marked that box. I guess history has drawn me here, though I admit that it’s hard to justify exactly what makes this a major milestone, as opposed to data in future time frames.
The actual flight, in terms of technical achievements, does not shoot. The first human suborbital voyage, by Alan Shepard, in 1961, was in itself a consolation prize, as the Russians had already sent astronauts into orbit twice. Branson is already the first space magnate billionaire to drive his own ship. Now the private company is Spacena Elona Muska routinely sending astronauts to orbit International Space Station. As with SpaceX, Blue’s rockets mostly return to Terra Firm unscathed.
Yet here you can feel something different and not necessarily what the people from Blue Origin praise. During Sunday’s press briefing, Blue Origin officials continued to talk about all the first ones. The most convincing, and certainly great answer to the little things is that this flight will include both the oldest and the youngest person traveling in space. In addition to Bezos and his brother Marko – an Instagram post showed the older siblings submitting a bachelorette-style suborbital proposal to the crew is Wally Funk, an invited guest who was once educated for the Mercury program, who will be the oldest person to try space travel, and a paying customer Oliver Daemon, who will be the youngest. Directors also claimed to be the first commercial company to send a paying customer into space. This is a thin difference, because the company Space Ventures has been arranging the passage to the extreme limit for years, with a very rigid fee. One of his customers, former Microsoft scientist Charles Simonyi, there is even a difference that he is the first billionaire in space, traveling twice by a ship of the Russian space agency. (Sorry, Branson.)