Bezos in Space: A Great Step Forward For Humankind – Conservative Article
Recently, Jeff Bezos made the news by travelling in his rocket, the New Shepard, into space. This was fantastic to witness. It is proving more and more that space travel is something that is no longer a government monopoly. This is vital to humanity’s efforts to colonise space. As a previous POI article highlighted, we cannot rely on the Earth to be a permanent home for humans, so we must look to the stars.
However, people have been questioning whether billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson have chosen the right time to plunge millions of dollars into space travel, during a global pandemic. And I say yes it is.
Both Europe and the US have reopened their societies. That means people can return to their normal lives and return to their lives and their jobs. Non-essential businesses like retail and shopping have been open for some time now. Meaning people can participate in these activities guilt-free. Someone going out for a meal is just as non-essential as Jeff Bezos going to space, from a health perspective of course. In fact, these billionaires are pushing pioneering technology that will improve our capabilities for travelling to space. In comparison, a simple meal in a restaurant does not have quite the same impact on humanity.
Secondly, while this technology is being used for commercialising space travel, there are other applications to it. Making this type of travel less expensive allows for easier exploration. This is something that must be done if we want the human race to survive. When viewed through this light, their efforts become more important. If we expect the human race to survive past the earth, cheaper space travel must be established.
This also means that space travel is becoming less and less of a government monopoly. The last time NASA put humans in space without a private company doing it for them was 2011, now ten years ago. Those that flew were all qualified to fly, the same as in all of the previous missions. While I won’t argue that letting the mega-rich fly democratises space travel or anything like that. It is an important step to opening up travel to everyone else. Private people have not been able to travel to space before. You would have to have intense training, so this moves the barrier down a peg.
The price of a ticket is astronomically high. There is no denying that. To get on Richard Branson’s rocket, for example, a ticket would cost you 250,000 dollars. That is obviously out of reach for the vast majority of people. However, innovations in technology will eventually bring this down to a more manageable cost. Let’s compare this to air travel for a moment. In 1941, a flight from Los Angeles to Boston would cost 4,539.24 dollars (in today’s money) and would take fifteen hours fifteen minutes and twelve stops to get there. In 2015, it cost only 480.89 dollars and would take six hours in a single flight. Thanks to innovation, deregulation and competition this is now possible.
There are several companies that are looking to innovate space travel. SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin just to name a few, will do to the space tourism industry what countless companies have done to the airline industry. Competition amongst these companies will bring the price of a ticket down, eventually enabling people to travel into the stars.
Private companies will also push the boundaries of how far we can travel into space too. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has said that he wants to reach mars so that humanity is no longer a “single planet species”. That is a bold goal. But it is more than Washington can say. A former NASA historian explained that going to Mars wasn’t possible simply because the political will to do so was lacking. Private companies, with their vision-focused goals, eliminate this problem.
Finally, I imagine that many people have either got or had dreams to travel into space. These leaps forward dare these people to dream once again. And in a world that has experienced lockdowns over the last year, isn’t that escapism worth something? One day space travel will be more affordable, allowing humanity to fulfil these dreams. These trips put us one step closer to achieving those goals.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
Point of Information
The billionaire space race is as insensitive as it is needless – A Liberal Response
Seeing Bezos and co. compete with each other to see who has the biggest ego and the most money really does not dare me to dream again. Their money has come from the mass exploitation of workers and avoidance of tax. They encapsulate the worst of capitalism.
Bezos had the audacity to thank Amazon workers for paying for his joyride to space. These are the same workers who are denied toilet breaks and in the US, are still denied unionisation. Elon Musk, meanwhile, got his money from a Zambian emerald mine owned by his father. Richard Branson, on the other hand, does seem to care for his workers, with the Virgin Group being listed as the eighth-best UK company to work for in 2017. He, however, is a tax exile and, similarly to Bezos and Musk, pays as little tax as possible.
These individuals do not represent the peak of humanity. If they really wanted to dare the world to dream, they should start with tackling global issues and paying their taxes. Imagine how society could be improved if the world’s richest people actively invested their money in society, rather than their own ego projects. In 2007 and 2011, Bezos paid literally no income tax and paid a low average rate of only 21% between 2006 and 2018. The fact that this is allowed to happen in modern society is truly despicable. Nobody should be that rich, and if they are, they should be taxed heavily – to allow people to benefit. It makes no sense that somebody can be that rich and others, even in the same country, can live in poverty.
Whilst I am excited by the prospects of space travel, I do not think that now is the time. In the midst of a global pandemic and a climate crisis, the idea of an exploitation-fuelled, ego-fuelling trip to space is massively out of touch and insensitive.
Written by Luca Boyd, Senior Liberal Writer
Pointless, self-indulgent and tone-deaf – A Labour Response
With all due respect to Kieran, I think championing these individuals is extremely misguided. As Luca elegantly lays out, these three individuals who are driving the concept of space tourism are only able to do so through the exploitation of workers, the avoidance of tax and a sizeable amount of arrogance. They show very little desire to reinvest their wealth into society at the point when their help is most needed.
I am aghast that Kieran has suggested that this will help human colonisation of space because Bezos’s flight was only 11 minutes long. For context, it takes 3 days to reach the moon, a feat that humans achieved in 1969. Moreover, when did the colonisation of space become the number 1 option for humanity? With a number of social, and economic changes we could reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses, stop stripping the planet of natural resources and combat the culture of hyper-consumption.
It is shocking to me that Kieran is so readily willing to place the mega-rich and their obsessive drive to monetise everything on a pedestal. Frankly, I thought their trips to space were abominations that showed a sickening awareness of the inequality and severe problems faced by many members of the human race.
Written by Senior Labour Writer, Henry McKeever