EDITORIAL: Space tourism is a new playground for billionaires | Editorials

Fifty-two years ago this Tuesday, our often hectic world came together for a moment of wonder.

People around the world have watched live television footage of Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon, becoming the first human to pitch his boots anywhere other than Earth. It happened late on a Sunday night, and some parents got their young children out of bed so they could witness a historic moment in human history. Elderly people born before the invention of the telephone also watched, in awe of the progress humanity had made in their lifetimes.

Half a century later, spaceflight is back in the news, but this time it’s more about human excesses than human accomplishments. Amazon founder and mega-billionaire Jeff Bezos is expected to be the second member of an extraordinarily well-heeled coterie to be catapulted to the edge of space on Tuesday. It will be a faster thrill ride than any attraction in Kennywood, while costing much, much, much more than premium admission to West Mifflin Amusement Park. Last weekend, British tycoon Richard Branson became the first billionaire to almost Slipping the surly bonds of Earth when he took his much-publicized, Mach 3 journey into the skies.

People like Branson and Bezos say they are ushering in a new era of space tourism, where people can look at our orb and experience weightlessness and, later, maybe even travel to the moon or beyond. of the. It all sounds buccaneer and forward-looking, but the reality is this: it is outright pride.

It’s about the wealthy finding new ways to spend their money. As Los Angeles Times Columnist Michael Hiltzik put it, thefts are a big deal “for anyone mourning the demise of the ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ TV show, which ran out of channel over 15 years ago.” .

He added: “The competition to be the first billionaire in space should mark a milestone in the towering vanity of the rich.”

Bezos will join his journey through an Ohio real estate developer who made a winning bid at an auction. This will cost the developer $ 28 million. It is expected that the seats on these flights will eventually drop, to “only” about $ 250,000 each.

Can you imagine what else we could do with $ 28 million? It’s easy if you try. He could build a few primary schools or a middle school in communities that need it. It could help deliver clean water to parts of the United States and the world that lack it, it could help eradicate disease and help get the COVID-19 vaccine to parts of the world that demand it. With thousands of people still starving to death each year, this could put a lot of food in a lot of bellies.

And if good stocks aren’t your thing, art and rare books seem like smarter investments.

No, space exploration is absolutely not a waste. Missions dating back to the days of John Glenn and the Mercury astronauts have been of scientific value and were carried out by personnel with years of training. Reaching the moon showcased our ingenuity to its fullest.

But space tourism? It’s just another check mark status symbol.

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