Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos Reaches Space: Who are the Billionaires in the Space Race?
THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON JULY 12, 2021, AND UPDATED ON JULY 21, 2021.
On July 20, Jeff Bezos finally fulfilled a longtime dream of his of going to space when he blasted off on a reusable rocket built by his firm Blue Origin as part of a crew of four people.
The Amazon founder, who stepped away from his role as chief executive of Amazon two weeks ago, travelled over 60 miles above Earth in a trip that lasted 10 minutes.
He got to experience weightlessness for about three minutes with his crew members which consisted of his brother, Mark Bezos, pilot Wally Funk, the oldest person to fly into space, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year old whose father purchased a ticket for him.
The group then returned to earth safely where the crew popped a bottle of champagne and celebrated their success.
"Oh my God," exclaimed Bezos during the conference. "My expectations were high, and they were dramatically exceeded."
Bezos' flight to space, however, is more than just a joyride. In fact, the billionaire has already announced that Blue Origin has two passenger launches scheduled for 2021 with the first one as early as September. However, they have yet to release information on pricing.
Bezos' flight comes days after billionaire Richard Branson launched himself into space on his Virgin Galactic space plane with the intent to make space tourism a real thing.
True enough, many billionaires have been pumping in billions of dollars to try to get themselves and more people into space.
Find out the other billionaires who are vying to get into space.
A few weeks ago, Richard Branson finally achieved his 17-year-old dream of reaching space when he boarded his Virgin Galactic space plane, Unity, with five other crewmates and hurtled into space with them for a 15-minute joyride.
The Unity managed to reach an altitude of 86km over the New Mexico desert and that meant that all onboard got to experience three to four minutes of weightlessness and that they also got to witness the curvature of Earth.
The trip, which was highly publicised, was a commercial plug for Virgin Galactic which is reportedly going to try taking paying customers on space trips from as early as next year.
Branson's groundbreaking trip to space was tracked by news outlets all over the world and watched by about 500 people in person, including Branson's family—all of whom cheered and jumped up and down as the Unity touched down safely on Earth after the quick but momentous ride.
In fact, apart from some issues with the video transmission, the flight was "perfect" and the ship was "pristine", according to Mike Moses, a top executive at Virgin Galactic.
Elon Musk, the chief executive officer of Spacex, looks set to be able to launch himself into space in the near future.
In fact, the billionaire recently decided to sell all his properties and to move into a small, US$50,000 home so that he could focus all his resources on his mission to get to Mars as well as on his other companies.
While no date has been set for when he will actually blast off, Spacex has made great progress manufacturing rocket engines as well as conducting research into thrusters and other components.
James Cameron has always been obsessed with space. In fact, when he was a child, he recounted many instances where he cried watching space shuttles launch.
In 2012, Cameron invested in Planetary Resources which is a company that aims to use robot ships to mine asteroids for metals such as platinum and gold. He has also worked with NASA on Mars related projects and talked about hoping to shoot a movie in space one day.
In fact, in 2018, he admitted in an interview that he had spoken to Tom Cruise about doing a space film many years back but that it never came to be.
Here's hoping that Cameron one day achieves his dream to visit space.
Robert Bigelow is the founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace which aims at creating space structures that are habitable.
They have been in business since 1999 and to date, Bigelow has invested over US$350 million into the research, design and construction of these structures and has even worked with Nasa on a number of contracts. He has also successfully launched two subscale spacecraft.
As he continues his work into the exploration of space, there remains hope that one day, he may be able to visit space himself.