The announcement that Jeff Bezos (Amazon) would go into space on the first manned trip of his company Blue Origin highlights the obsession that some billionaires have for launching themselves to conquer space, also shared by Elon Musk (Tesla) and Richard Branson (Virgin).
The richest man in the world, according to Forbes, told on his Instagram account that next July 20 – only fifteen days after his resignation as CEO of Amazon becomes effective – he will travel into space with his brother, Mark, and a third person who buys the seat through an auction.
That day will be the first commercial trip of the aerospace company he founded in September 2000 – six years after creating Amazon – and the billionaire explained how, since he was five years old, he has always dreamed of traveling into space.
A childhood dream
“Seeing Earth from space changes you and changes your relationship with the planet and with humanity,” said Bezos, who earlier this year announced his plans to step down as head of Amazon and hand over the baton to Andy Jassy, now head of Amazon Web Services (AWS).
This will give him more time to focus on philanthropic initiatives and the management of his other companies, Blue Origin and the progressive newspaper The Washington Post.
Bezos’ passion for space is shared by Elon Musk, who, although internationally known for his position at the helm of the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla, before taking up this position founded SpaceX, a private company that is a NASA contractor and which last year put astronauts into orbit.
The South African billionaire, who lives in Texas, is convinced that the future of humanity lies outside planet Earth and that if the species does not migrate into space, a mass extinction phenomenon will occur at some point.
The battle to conquer space
“The alternative is to become a space-traveling civilization and a species that resides on several planets. I hope you will agree with me that this is the right way to proceed,” Musk addressed the audience at a conference in Mexico in 2016.
The billionaire has also expressed desires to found a city on Mars that would have one million inhabitants by 2050 and SpaceX is already working on the design of aircraft to transport them.
Despite the fact that his company has achieved the most success and notoriety in the space industry to date, Musk has not yet been a passenger on any of his trips and Bezos will be ahead of him when he is propelled into the atmosphere next July 20.
The third in the running is Richard Branson, co-founder of the British conglomerate Virgin Group – with a strong presence in the world of air transport and tourism – and who in 2004 founded Virgin Galactic, a subsidiary whose aim is to offer commercial space travel.
Hotels and interplanetary flights
However, Branson’s bet is somewhat different from those of Bezos and Musk, since it is not based on sending rockets that shoot vertically from the Earth’s surface to the International Space Station, the moon or any planet.
Virgin Galactic, instead, uses a propulsion cargo aircraft (similar to two airplanes joined at the wing) that lifts the spacecraft to a certain height and then releases it to glide and use its own engine to go even higher.
As in the cases of Bezos and Musk, Branson has his own dream, which is to move the current model of air travel into space, with ultra-high-speed travel and transport to hotels on other planets.