Picture: File photo
Picture: File photo

What’s the point of the billionaires’ race to space?

By Wesley Diphoko Time of article published Jul 20, 2021

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The space race is no longer the same. The “space race” was a Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to develop aerospace capabilities, including artificial satellites, unmanned space probes, and human space flight.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created in 1958 as the federal agency with primary responsibility for the development of civilian aerospace research.

Early Soviet successes in the space race had a major impact on US society and culture, altering strategic defence doctrines and leading to new educational initiatives. The space race existed to marshal a sense of shared purpose (and also to make spy satellites). It gestured toward higher values that are nowhere to be found in the current billionaires’ space race. What was the point of the first billionaire (Sir Richard Branson) in space and what will be the meaning of the second billionaire (Jeff Bezos) in space?

Branson spent the money he earned off the labour of low-wage workers and became a winner in an extravagant pageant that’s designed less to inaugurate a new era of space flight than to drum up business for his other companies. Branson, like his would-be space faring competitors, isn’t an innovator; he’s a salesman. He is on a marketing campaign for the Virgin name to create an image of innovation and safety that will help his group of companies pick off a satellite launch contract or two that might have gone to SpaceX.

As for Jeff Bezos, next week, July 20, he will follow Branson with his own rocket.

Read the full article on fastcompany.co.za.

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