All of a sudden we are witnessing a brace of billionaires puttering around in space. First Richard Branson aboard Virgin Orbit rocketed into the ionosphere and nine days later Jeff Bezos followed on Blue Origin. At least six other members of the “One Thousand Million Dollar Club” including hotelier Robert Bigelow and Microsoft’s Paul Allen have plans to travel to the great beyond. Elon Musk has been quoted as saying he ‘wants to die on Mars’ and if his spacecraft performs like the four previous SpaceX prototypes that crashed and burned upon landing… he might just get his wish.
Branson’s venture could be described as ‘one small step for man; one giant leap for a guy who only 17 months ago was begging Britain for a $700 million COVID-19 bailout and offering his $100 million Caribbean island as security.
Branson and his shaggy mane spent four minutes in space, far short of the record set by the shorthair Russian dog Laika who entered the upper atmosphere in 1957 and is still up there somewhere.
But it was the universally-disliked Jeff Bezos who had the roughest ride into the world of self-made astronauts. Apparently 1.3 million Amazon employees applauded and cheered as their boss was launched into space but things quickly turned ugly when they were told that he’d also be returning to earth. (Not making this up — an online petition to keep Jeff Bezos in outer space collected 165,000 signatures as soon as it was posted.)
To put the time frame in perspective, his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, now worth $35 billion herself, took more time to have her nails done then Bezos spent in zero gravity.
Bezos and his cowboy hat spent approximately 10 minutes in space or as one disgruntled Amazon employee characterized it… maternity leave. If I were Bezos I’d be very, very nervous about getting into a space craft made by non-unionized workers.
Musk was thrilled to see Bezos doing back flips in zero gravity because for those ten minutes Elon became the richest man back here on planet earth. While sucking on a blunt, Musk was seen wildly applauding Bezos’ trip until somebody explained to him it was “ten minutes in space” not “ten minutes spaced out.”
Way too obvious to overlook, Bezos’ rocket, The New Shepard, looks exactly like a penis or from a slightly different angle… Ted Cruz.
Bezos actually auctioned off the seat next to him in the spacecraft and I thought, with his net worth at $196.3 billion why didn’t he just pay for that seat and leave it vacant so he doesn’t have to fight the guy next to him for the armrest?!?
Watching all the amateur astronauts eating skittles, spinning upside down and uncorking Champagne upon landing, I remember thinking — couldn’t they at least pretend to be doing some sort of cancer research in weightlessness to make themselves look less like a bunch of out-a-touch elitist loons? With their total of trillions of wealth they could end world hunger or eliminate future pandemics or reverse global warming. “Amazon buys The Amazon,” has a nice ring to it. But no, all that money for a “Toy Store Space War.”
Conan O’Brien summed up this new space race best when he said: “I dream of the day when space travel is available not only to billionaires, but to any person with a net worth of over $500 million.”
I like to think this whole space extravaganza began with Branson, Bezos and Musk betting on who could pay the least taxes, then escalated to who had the biggest booster rocket and wound up in thin air 80 kilometres above the bar they were in.
Next thing you know somebody will mention that the oceans are the earth’s last unexplored frontiers and suddenly Mark Zuckerberg and James Cameron will be playing bumper cars with nuclear submarines 20,000 leagues under the sea. Zuckerberg’s first shot into space will represent a homecoming because he kinda looks like he came from there.
Despite Musk’s dream to create a city on Mars or Bezos’ plan to build colonies in Earth’s orbit, both of these flights were nothing more than crass advertising for the future business of space tourism — quick, sightseeing tours at the edge of earth which will make the incomprehensible rich even richer. Can you imagine if they’re right and the price of space rides comes down to where the average person can afford it?
“Excuse me, could I get a glass of wine?”
Stewardess/flight attendant/astronaut: “No. Tang or recycled pee with ice.”
“Today we’re featuring a 2021 Branson Brown with a nutty taste and a British dark ale colour.”
“We can offer you recycled ‘Space Cowboy’ droppings rolled in sea salt and…”
“No! Can you get that kid behind me to quit kicking my seat?”
“MARK! Knock it off!”
“He’s still kicking my seat.”
“For an extra hundred dollars I’ll show you how to use our Ejection Seat System.”
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