From small to giant leaps – Manila Bulletin
What began over six decades ago as a battle between the United States and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) for space hegemony has morphed into a “billionaire battle” over who would lead space tourism for the mass market.
On July 11 and 20, respectively, Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos successfully launched into suborbital orbit and returned to earth safely. A third billionaire, Elon Musk, who founded SpaceEx in 2002, cast his spell with his friend Branson, after being the first to send humans to the International Space Station in 2020.
This triumvirate envisions a not-too-distant future in which there could be a mass market for space travel and tourism.
Bezos and Musk have a similar concept: launching people and payloads into space. Branson’s space company, Virgin Galactic, focuses on suborbital tourism. Instead of launching rockets vertically from the ground, his spacecraft is transported to 50,000 feet by WhiteKnightTwo, a twin-fuselage jet from which the ship detaches “before starting its rocket motor and beginning an almost vertical ascent. at approximately 300,000 feet ”.
Bezos created Blue Origin in 2000 with a similar goal to Musk’s: to use rocket thrusters that could be recycled for repeated launches. Bezos’ company vehicle, The Kent, operated in secrecy from Washington State until 2003; Bezos had been silent since then – and until just before his successful flight.
Interviewed by CNN, Bezos – who is the richest person in the world – said that just as the US Postal Service has paved the way for companies like Amazon, his vision is to “build a road to space for people can travel there “. He also made a pitch for sustainable development. He observed that industrial growth was fueled by the “dirty stuff” of heavy industry that could be moved into space; then the energy could be transmitted to the earth and used productively without polluting the atmosphere.
Spoken by the die-hard entrepreneur who made Amazon one of the world’s largest companies through e-commerce, Bezos’ statements could, indeed, grab the attention of investors, entrepreneurs and the general public.
The Branson-Bezos expeditions are now heralded as markers of the end of the government’s monopoly on space travel. Bezos became a philosopher by observing that his feat was achieved exactly 52 years after American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon on July 20, 1969. Armstrong’s famous first words were: “He’s a a small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.
He said his business – and in brackets, those of Branson and Musk – are “small steps” that could pave the way for “giant leaps” given that there are “enormous resources on the moon.” and – in Musk’s vision, on Mars, too – it could be transformed by harnessing the power of evolutionary technology.
In the meantime, humanity is holding its breath and awaiting more exciting developments.
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