Much of our knowledge about space has changed since Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin crossed the Karman line for the first time in history, including the goals of space exploration. From the Cold War to the race of barons, this is the story of space colonization.
“We chose to go to the moon,” former US President John F. Kennedy said in 1962, in a poetic speech expressing an era of frantic struggle for space exploration. At that time, Kennedy spoke in the language of all American institutions about reaching the moon, “not because it is easy, but because it is difficult. This goal will work to organize our best energies and skills,” as he put it, which will enhance American strengths in the comprehensive confrontation with the forces of the eastern camp.
Many things have changed since Kennedy’s time, including the decline of government institutions (including the US Space Agency) and the progress of private companies and businessmen, to the extent that the net worth of 3 wealthy Americans: Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, reached about 400 billion dollars, which is about $400 billion. It is roughly the size of Ireland’s GDP.
But what is more important than the size of the wealth is the entry of these three, along with others, into industries that, until recently, were considered governmental or military, and the use of their huge money in planning the future of humanity, and running after personal dreams approaching science fiction literature, represented by colonizing Mars or building space hotels. Or investing in tourism to the outside world, creating a modern race in which rich men – not countries – are catching stars.
From a state’s dream to a child’s dream: “Why don’t they go there?”
1- Man in space
April 12, 1961, at 9:7 am, Moscow time. The Vostok-1 rocket was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, carrying a Soviet one-man spacecraft into low Earth orbit.
The man was Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin, the boy who was astonished by the difficult landing of the Soviet Yak plane during the German invasion of his country, and who grew up to spend 108 minutes in Earth’s orbit, in a full circle around it, thus becoming the first human to go into space.
The flight was seen as more than just an experience for a military pilot in the Red Army, but rather a great victory for the Soviets in their cold race with the United States into space, which ended with the latter’s advance after Neil Armstrong’s success in landing for the first time on the moon, on July 21, 1969, via the shuttle. Apollo 11″.
“It’s a small human step, but a giant leap for humanity,” said Armstrong upon landing on the moon, ushering in the era of “Mighty Man” capable of reaching planets and celestial bodies other than Earth, and inspired by his joint journey with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, many novelists Science fiction, songwriters and filmmakers to tell about the new world that awaits humans on their new journeys.
The race between the two great powers began at the time to ascend into space through orbital flights and launch satellites, but it evolved to become the goal of sending manned flights, which imposed the development of industries related to the manufacture of rockets, capsules and space communication systems, and the establishment of major space programs and agencies such as the “Soviet Space Program”. and NASA.
The space programs of the Soviets and Americans included tens of thousands of engineers and specialists, including some German scientists and engineers fleeing the defeat of Nazism, and their cost doubled with the intensification of competition, so the budget of “NASA” rose from 744 million dollars in 1961 (equivalent to today’s 5.9 billion dollars), to 4.17 billion (about $32 billion today), 1964.
2- The rich in space
About 10 days separate my trip Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos into space. These days will allow news agencies and the media to better cover the flights led by two billionaires, which will be the start of tourism projects with a new destination: outer space.
The 70-year-old billionaire returned to Earth on Sunday after a trip to space during which he tested zero gravity for a few minutes in a vehicle made by his company, Virgin Galactic, which he founded 17 years ago. His plane took off from the “Spaceport” base in New Mexico, and flew about 50 minutes before launching the suspended vehicle below, which ran its own engine until it reached space, to return to Earth after a few minutes without problems.
“I’ve wanted to go to space since I was a kid, and I hope to make it possible for hundreds of thousands of people to get into space in the next 100 years,” said Branson, who is worth about $5 billion.
He added, “Why don’t they go there? Space is extraordinary, the universe is wonderful. I want people to look at our beautiful land from above, work hard to make it magical and take care of it.”
Branson, through his company, Virgin Galactic, aspires to launch the space tourism sector as of 2022, at an average of 400 flights per year, from the Spaceport base.
Branson was not the first billionaire to travel to space. They were preceded by Hungarian-American Charles Simonyi and then Canadian Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, who spent several days at the International Space Station in 2007 and 2009, respectively, after they were launched by a Russian “Soyuz” rocket. And he will not be the last, as about 600 people have so far paid for a ticket to space, at a price ranging between 200 and 250 thousand dollars.
As for Bezos, it will be launched only 15 days after Resigning as CEO of his company “Amazon” To space through the “New Shepard” spacecraft made by his company “Blue Origin”, in a journey that will last 11 minutes.
Bezos founded “Blue Origin” in 2000, 6 years after founding “Amazon”, but the company maintained a slow progress at the beginning of the millennium, taking the turtle as an “amulet” according to Bezos, and raising a Latin slogan that foreshadows the long and bumpy road that awaits manned flights: “gradatim ferociter” means “step by step, fiercely.”
The New Shepard rocket will take off vertically from a desert in West Texas, next Tuesday, to separate the capsule from it at an altitude of about 75 kilometers, and continue its ascent to exceed the Karman Line located at an altitude of 100 kilometers, which represents the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and space.
The four passengers, who are Bezos’ brother, an 82-year-old pilot, and an 18-year-old astronaut, will be able to 3 minutes of swimming in zero gravity and observing the curvature of the planet. Meanwhile, the missile returns downward and also gently descends vertically on a runway, while the capsule begins a free fall process to return to the ground, with 3 large parachutes and brake missiles slowing down before landing in the desert.
When Bezos was a teenager, he said that he dreamed of building space hotels and colonies that could accommodate millions of people, a dream that seems to have dreamed of many under the influence of the “Space Conquest” films and science fiction stories that Bezos admired, for example, written by Neil Stephenson. But such dreams do not go away from the calculations of numbers, and Bezos, who worked as a financial analyst at the beginning of his career and then became a net worth of 187 billion dollars, knows a lot about investing and turning imagination into a business.
Bezos was able to finance his company with billions of dollars through Amazon shares, and through special contracts with the US Army Air Force and NASA, meaning that the startup has not added anything to Bezos’ wealth so far, but that may change if the American billionaire succeeds in making tourism In space, it is possible or transferring heavy industries to outside Earth, as he plans, or building “Blue Moon” vehicles in cooperation with “NASA” that will land on the surface of the moon by 2024.
Elon Musk describes himself as an “alien”. The owner of Tesla, the electric car manufacturer and founder of SpaceX, which has succeeded in manufacturing rockets and space capsules that can be used several times, is one of the most prominent wealthy people who advocate the idea of colonizing space and building human colonies on the surface of Mars.
Musk founded SpaceX in 2002, years before he became CEO of Tesla, which grew out of the idea of sending a spacecraft called Mars Oasis to the Red Planet, to provide an experimental green space and take pictures of the planet and send it back to Earth.
Since its founding, the company has carried out many launches for commercial and governmental purposes, and in 2012 it became the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. And in 2020, it became the first to send astronauts to the International Space Station.
Musk claims that his company can land on the moon within the next 3 years, as NASA chose the company to participate in building the lander on the moon within the “Artemis” program, in which Bezos’ “Blue Origin” also participates.
NASA will adopt the company’s “Starship” vehicle to transport astronauts to the moon’s surface, where the first test version of the ship is expected to be launched this year.
Musk is a leading manufacturer of rockets, having built reusable rockets that reduce space flight costs, and SpaceX has a long and successful history of launching payloads over 100 km (Karman Line).
One of these payloads was Musk’s own car, which SpaceX launched into space in 2018, via a Falcon-Heavy rocket, which flew 7 million kilometers from Mars.
And SpaceX announced that it will launch an entirely civilian mission into orbit by the end of the year, with passengers orbiting the planet for up to 4 days before returning to Earth, but Musk has not announced that he will participate in such flights yet, but rather book a ticket within Branson’s upcoming flights. .
Hunger claims millions.. “Stay in space”
The three wealthy people received several criticisms as a result of devoting their huge money to achieving their personal dreams and commercial goals, at a time when the world is facing several crises, including global warming and the exacerbation of the tragic repercussions of the Corona virus epidemic.
More than 12,000 people recently signed a petition demanding the return of Jeff Bezos from his space trip to Earth, because he is “in fact Lex Luthor (Superman’s enemy designed to destroy humanity), disguised as the supposed owner of a very successful retail store”.
The petition continued, “He is in fact an evil leader who is very dominant in the world… We have known this for years.”
Is anyone else alarmed that billionaires are having their own private space race while record-breaking heatwaves are sparking a ‘fire-breathing dragon of clouds’ and cooking sea creatures to death in their shells?
– Robert Reich (@RBReich) July 8, 2021
Others demanded that $6 billion be allocated from these rich people’s money to save the lives of 41 million people who will die of starvation in 43 countries around the world. According to the World Food ProgramBefore planning to build colonies outside the land, only a small minority of the rich will be able to buy a ticket to get there after consuming the riches of the land and leaving it stricken.
Hey, @RichadBranson, @elonmusk and @JeffBezos, so excited to see you compete on who gets to space first! BUT, I would love to see you TEAM up together to save the 41 million people who are about to starve this year on Earth! It only takes $6 Billion. We can solve this quickly! https://t.co/y5YeJwoWao
— David Beasley (@WFPChief) June 26, 2021