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Space exploration is a hobby of the rich


The priorities ascertained by the world’s leading governments, influential billionaires, and entrepreneurs are confusing, to say the least. The world has been in peril for decades. The end of the Second World War split the country into many dimensions – each having its connection with the world at a social, geopolitical, and ideological level. With the world bipolar indeed, the thoughts and opinions of world leaders and those of mega-corporations are fuelling the actions of multinational companies. Instead of joining hands to serve the world and reduce its many socio-economic ailments, their intentions are directed at pursuits that do not serve the common man.
Circling in the news is Elon Musk, Founder, CEO at SpaceX; CEO, and Product Architect of Tesla, Inc. He envisions taking humans to Mars by 2026. His product designs and concepts have been calculating ways to send humans to Mars for years. Recently, he said, “We don’t want to be one of those single-planet species; we want to be a multi-planet species.” He further said, “It’s been now almost half a century since humans were last on the moon. That’s too long, we need to get back there and have a permanent base on the moon – again, like a big permanently occupied base on the moon. And then build a city on Mars to become a spacefaring civilization, a multi-planet species.”
His company is flying astronauts with its Falcon 9 rockets and Crew Dragon capsules. However, SpaceX is in the process of developing Starship. It is a massive stainless-steel rocket that is specifically designed to be fully reusable and will carry people to the moon and Mars. Indeed, the costs of such a journey will be hefty both for the passengers, crew, and the company.
According to Elon Musk, it will cost nearly $5 billion to develop a fully functional Starship. SpaceX has not revealed the money it has spent on the project already. SpaceX’s valuation has crossed over the $74 billion. This makes it one of the world’s most valuable private companies. In April 2021, SpaceX won a $2.9 billion contract from NASA. This will facilitate the space agency to land astronauts on the moon’s surface. The first crewed mission is expected to be launched in 2024. According to Musk, “[Starship has] mostly been funded internally thus far and it’s pretty expensive. As you can tell, if you’ve been watching videos, we’ve blown up a few of them.”
Musk is confident that Starship will convert space travel into commercial air travel. The rocket’s gigantic size would also make it proficient in launching several times with cargo and passengers. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets can send nearly 60 Starlink satellites at a time. Starship will launch 400 Starlink satellites.
Another person in the news regarding space flight is the Founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. The richest man in the world will be participating in the first passenger flight. It is being organized by his company, Blue Origin. It is scheduled for July 20, 2021. The date coincides with the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. In a video posted on social media, Bezos said, “I want to go on this flight because it’s the thing I’ve wanted to do all my life.”
According to Blue Origin, the current bid for a ticket on the flight with Bezos is up to $2.8 million. Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic charged $200,000 and $250,000 for people to reserve a spot on a flight. Branson sold 600 tickets.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has not shared the pricing for his flights. Axiom, a private spaceflight specialist, announced that it had expanded a deal with SpaceX to add three more crewed flights to the International Space Station. Indeed, such space exploration pursuits are neither for middle-class families nor for the rich. Only those having an affluent amount of money and capital can indulge in such leisure pursuits. One wonders what social and economic impact will people like Musk and Bezos can make if they decide to spend 10% to 15% of their annual income to restructure the sectors of education, health, and infrastructure in various areas of developing and under-developed nations. We may never find out for they are too busy staring at the stars and ignoring the world they live in.