Oh Great, Another Billionaire Launching Himself Into Space

by Christina Marfice
Originally Published: 
Joe Raedle/Elif Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Jeff Bezos is now the second billionaire to fund his own trip to space in just two weeks

Jeff Bezos, who officially stepped down from his role as head of Amazon just two weeks ago, is spending his morning casually going to space. He’s going in a spacecraft built by a company he founded and funded with his Amazon money, and what’s truly wild is he’s the second billionaire to launch himself outside of Earth’s atmosphere in just over a week — Richard Branson did it on July 11. Yay for them, I guess?

Both Bezos and Branson funded suborbital flights, which launch passengers 50-60 miles above the Earth’s surface, but return to the ground before they reach levels where they could orbit the Earth using its gravitational pull. In his flight this morning, Bezos is taking his younger brother, 50-year-old Mark Bezos; 82-year-old Mary Wallace Funk, a woman who passed the 1960s criteria NASA used to select astronauts, but who never got to go to space; and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old student from the Netherlands who bought his ticket in an auction for an undisclosed amount of money (what we do know is that the auction winner paid $28 million, and Daemen was the runner-up).

No one knows how much money these billionaires have spent on building themselves the ability to go to space. What we do know is that the governments of both Russia and the U.S. successfully sent humans on suborbital flights in 1961 — 60 years ago, during a time when no one on Earth could fathom a single person having enough money to just do the same thing NASA did. But here we are. 2021, y’all.

Bezos in particular has amassed that much money after years of criticism about low pay and harsh working conditions in Amazon warehouses. That criticism intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, when workers said the virus spread rapidly among them as they worked in close quarters, begging for PPE that Amazon allegedly refused to provide.

But don’t worry — Bezos sees sending himself to space as a form of philanthropy, because, in his brain, the solar system will be able to support so many more geniuses when people can live on planets other than just Earth.

“The solar system can easily support a trillion humans,” he said in a recent interview. “If we had a trillion humans, we would have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts and unlimited, for all practical purposes, resources and solar power. That’s the world that I want my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren to live in.”

Of course, Twitter had thoughts.

Bezos and the rest of the crew landed safely, having spent just 15 minutes total on the trip.

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