Billionaire Richard Branson – the first of a group of mega-rich adventurers who made it to… well, almost-space in a privately owned craft – said on his trip, “If we can do this, imagine what else we can do.” And it’s not just Branson, though he led the charge out of Earth’s atmosphere. Two other billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, are also planning their own journeys into the great beyond.
But is this more than just billionaires doing billionaire things that most of us can only dream about, or is it something more?
Some experts believe that civilians forging their way into space will have incredible benefits for the rest of us (though there are plenty of naysayers who want to point out the things these guys aren’t doing with their massive stacks of cash). Sure, space flight may not appear very useful – particularly when we’re in the throes of a fresh round of coronavirus infections thanks to the delta variant, huge parts of the American West are on fire and QAnon members are running for school boards and local offices to spread conspiracy theories – but that’s only looking at the short-term.
If you look at the big picture, where would we be if our ancestors never built huge ships to explore beyond their own shores? Where would we be if Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, Andre Citroen and Henry Ford never dove feet-first into the automobile business? Though Branson, Bezos and Musk have smaller ambitions than NASA does, their space flights could have the same results as the Wright Brothers’ earliest box kite flights did: to further public interest and maintain government funding for space travel, which our descendants may actually need to escape if Earth becomes much more inhospitable.
What Do You Think?
Do you think that Branson, Bezos and Musk are doing the right thing by pouring their near-infinite resources into space travel, or do you think they’re wasting time and money? Perhaps more importantly, would you jump at the chance to hitch a ride into space if you could? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.