Jump to content

The billionaire space race


Recommended Posts

I've posted a lot on here about how Elon Musk is working towards a future for Humanity among the stars and is building his Starship factory in Texas. Meanwhile Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are in a spat about their space tourism businesses, which would take people to the edge of space for up to four minutes, to get a taste of it.

Bezos has a company called Blue Origin (founded before SpaceX but which has never reached orbit with anything) and they have a little rocket called New Shepard that is going to fly the Amazon founder and three others to 105km altitude on 20th July. It's flown 15 times before without people on board for test flights and does look pretty safe.

Desperate to beat him, Branson has moved his own flight in Virgin Galactic forward to today. You can watch this afternoon on https://www.virgingalactic.com/. Branson's rocket has flown only flown three times, but with test pilots. That's since the previous one blew up seven years ago killing one test pilot and leaving the other with horrendous injuries: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VSS_Enterprise_crash

Bezos's Blue Origin posted a very bitchy graphic a couple of days ago claiming Branson isn't really going into space:

The problem for both Bezos and Branson is that they have a very short window to make money out of this. SpaceX already flies people to the International Space Station and later this year start sending people on three-day space trips high in orbit, rather than four minutes in low-Earth orbit of the other two. Plus once Starship is ready you'll be able to buy a return ticket to Mars for the same price as the Branson/Bezos flights. Starship will be ready soon, and the launch cadence of the other two companies is so slow they will lose their market before they've had much chance to profit from it. Long before Mars, SpaceX will have regular flights around the Earth and also around the Moon for real space tourists.

Elon Musk would love to go into space, but if something went wrong and he died then SpaceX might not continue its (highly unprofitable) mission to build a Human city on Mars, so he's said he's not prepared to take the risk.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd challenge that Bezos is in this for the tourism business - both he and Musk see the broader objective. Nice story that Musk and Bezos had dinner to see if they could work together, it didn't go well as Musk wanted to take a faster approach than Bezos felt comfortable with and Musk was saying he was happy to help get Bezos up to speed a bit with all his learnings (something that an ego like Bezos probably didn't appreciate). Consequently, every time a Space-X ship goes up it has a little hare painted on the side, Blue Origin put a little tortoise on theirs (painting, not a real one - that would be cruel). Whether Branson sees this as tourism funds the bigger project or if he just thinks that a few thousand people ponying up £180k is all he wants from it, time will tell.

Other story was that Bezos was very clear to his lawyers that the one part of his estate he wanted to keep in his divorce was the Blue Origin part. Warehousing is so yesterday - even if it made him the richest man on the planet.

Musk is an absolute sponge, by all accounts. Space engineers who worked with him three or four years ago thought he was a barm pot, the same people now say he has become a well regarded authority on the topic.

Both realise the business potential of space - I can't remember the name of it but an asteroid passed the Earth recently that was estimated to have more rare earth metals than we currently have access to in our own crust. Others see spinning rocks like the Moon as potential dumping grounds for us in the future - who cares how much CO2 we produce if it's all bilging out into space?

And if you think that all sounds a bit madcap remember that at the start of the 20th century no human had ever flown in any other object than a balloon, by the end of it we had a permanently manned space station orbiting the Earth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

25 minutes ago, BaaLocks said:

I'd challenge that Bezos is in this for the tourism business - both he and Musk see the broader objective. Nice story that Musk and Bezos had dinner to see if they could work together, it didn't go well as Musk wanted to take a faster approach than Bezos felt comfortable with and Musk was saying he was happy to help get Bezos up to speed a bit with all his learnings (something that an ego like Bezos probably didn't appreciate). Consequently, every time a Space-X ship goes up it has a little hare painted on the side, Blue Origin put a little tortoise on theirs (painting, not a real one - that would be cruel). Whether Branson sees this as tourism funds the bigger project or if he just thinks that a few thousand people ponying up £180k is all he wants from it, time will tell.

Other story was that Bezos was very clear to his lawyers that the one part of his estate he wanted to keep in his divorce was the Blue Origin part. Warehousing is so yesterday - even if it made him the richest man on the planet.

Musk is an absolute sponge, by all accounts. Space engineers who worked with him three or four years ago thought he was a barm pot, the same people now say he has become a well regarded authority on the topic.

Both realise the business potential of space - I can't remember the name of it but an asteroid passed the Earth recently that was estimated to have more rare earth metals than we currently have access to in our own crust. Others see spinning rocks like the Moon as potential dumping grounds for us in the future - who cares how much CO2 we produce if it's all bilging out into space?

And if you think that all sounds a bit madcap remember that at the start of the 20th century no human had ever flown in any other object than a balloon, by the end of it we had a permanently manned space station orbiting the Earth.

You're absolutely right.  It's an area actively being looked at and planned for already.  Estimates so far imply that a 25 metre wide metallic asteroid could hold as much as 30 tons of platinum, worth some $1 billion.  There are millions of asteroids out there. The one you allude to maybe 16 Psyche.  It's a biggie, some 140 miles wide and I believe the most mineral rich asteroid we've found to date. It's believed 16 Psyche could be worth €8,240 quadrillion! NASA is already working on a mission to go look at this one, launch scheduled in about a year's time. There's about a dozen other asteroids being looked at for similar missions. 

And as for the Moon being a dumping ground.  Well, it could well be in the end.  Just think Wall-E.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This article by the spouse of a NASA flight controller is pretty illuminating

https://www.salon.com/2021/07/07/no-billionaires-wont-escape-to-space-while-the-world-burns/

Quote

Space tourism will inevitably suck. Our billionaires won't find anything up there but a whole lot of time to sit with the gaping void in their hearts, which space certainly won't fill, while forcibly holding their asscheeks to a suctioning toilet seat, because they're constipated as hell from astronaut food

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Stive Pesley said:

This article by the spouse of a NASA flight controller is pretty illuminating

https://www.salon.com/2021/07/07/no-billionaires-wont-escape-to-space-while-the-world-burns/

 

Really enjoyed that article, very enlightening.

Although if I'm being honest I probably spent longer read the two line bio trying to figure it out, until it dawned on me they have a pronoun of they/them.
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 12/07/2021 at 19:01, AndyinLiverpool said:

I'd have thought someone who blagged government handouts to pay Virgin employees and laid a bunch off would have had the good taste not to come back from space in his billionaire plaything.

The Bamford

Vanity toys for over grown boys

 

On 12/07/2021 at 12:54, Stive Pesley said:

This article by the spouse of a NASA flight controller is pretty illuminating

https://www.salon.com/2021/07/07/no-billionaires-wont-escape-to-space-while-the-world-burns/

 

Really hope that comes to pass, can’t believe it will serve any useful purpose right now but to fund ego’s.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, sage said:

Meanwhile on Earth, poor countries can't afford vaccines, education for all and clean water. 

Indeed, saw a tweet the other day along the lines of 

"I'd the billionaires flying to space stay on Earth and pay their taxes"

which pretty much sums it up my feeling on this...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 14/07/2021 at 09:10, sage said:

Meanwhile on Earth, poor countries can't afford vaccines, education for all and clean water. 

Brandon and besos you can probably level this at, as they only really seem to be interested in the tourism, which is just another way for them to make money which they’ll then inevitably dodge tax on. 

but musk wants to build that city on Mars, he’s not going to make a profit out of that, it will make a loss. Hence he’s not going on one of his space ships, just in case it does blow up and the city on Mars project is ended by his shareholders and inheritors. 

Ultimately I think it’s important that billionaires use their money for good. I’d they can’t be arsed to find their own projects, then they can pay tax and let the government do it for them. Musk genuinely believes the long term future of humanity is at stake if he doesn’t build his city, which supersedes any short term projects he could invest him. You might disagree, but at least he’s doing something benevolent with his money. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So @Carl Sagan, do these space rockets work in the same way as the SpaceX rocket? Ie are they resuseable, landing back on their fins on the landing pad in the same way?

apart from SpaceX being massive and designed for carrying lots and lots of people, the jumbo jet of the space world, what are the key differences?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 20/07/2021 at 15:32, Stive Pesley said:

can we all just take a moment to ponder the gloriously Freudian design of Jeff Bezos's rocket?

I mean they all kinda look phallic anyway by design, but seriously...

image.thumb.png.8d39aa90276a701fba2d3fe87368457e.png

 

 

Very Flesh Gordon, I agree....

4b457c44148d46096f118c3e8f9596ba.jpg.9df3145999c3dcd57e59aedd8c169f9e.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As none of these lot are actually going into orbit there not actually going into space anyway are they.

Bit like the fella who holds the longest free fall record of about 30.000 metres.  He had some kind of parachute attached to him to manipulate descent so surely that can't be classed as genuine freefall.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account.

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.