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Why did billionaires risk their lives for the 2021 space race?

Why did Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson risk their lives for the 2021 space race? 

For the first time in history, capitalism has done its charm and brought us to another spectacular space race! Jeff Bezos took to the skies on 20th July, while Branson, a day later. Seeing the two billionaires launch into space was nothing less than a miracle. But wait, am I missing someone here? Yes, it seems like SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who flew dozens of rockets in his lifetime, has never jumped on a spacecraft himself. This raises the question: why did Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson risk their lives to travel to the edge of space?  

Many may point out that Richard Branson and even Jeff Bezos are mage successful and have already spent most of their years. Well, that may be true but remember that none of them embarked on this journey alone. Oliver Daemen also accompanied Jeff Bezos to space. And let me tell you, he is the youngest space traveler as of 20 July 2021, reaching the edge of space at just 18 years of age.

Business Insider provides the details, by mentioning that: 

On Tuesday, the Dutch teen joined Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, Bezos’ brother Mark, and aviator Wally Funk aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, which carried human passengers for the first time ever. 

Daemen, who is currently 18, was Blue Origin’s first paying customer — he bid for the seat at an auction last month, ultimately losing out to an anonymous bidder who paid $28 million for the opportunity. But Daemen is flying in that passenger’s place after “scheduling conflicts” arose, Blue Origin said in a blog post on Thursday.

This proves that Jeff Bezos wasn’t only risking his own life and the lives of other astronauts who were on board. Now I’m going too far from the topic, so let me spring back in. 

Overshadowed by the giant: 

As I mentioned before, even Elon Musk is big, if not the largest player in the game. Elon sprung up in popularity for his numerous other successes including PayPal and Tesla. Not to mention, his regular tweets on Twitter and his presence on other social media platforms. His ambition is the first quality that is observed by his fans and investors alike. So, there is no doubt that he is getting all the attention in the space industry as well. And who is being affected by all of this? Of course, our dear Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson! No matter how many milestones they reached and barriers they crossed, Elon Musk’s SpaceX always kept foreshadowing their success.

On top of that, the media always compared Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic’s achievements to SpaceX, which would just seem to be little to nothing for the audience. 

Investor funding on record low: 

Investor funding was also down before the launch, especially for Virgin Galactic. Titans such as Chamath Palihapitiya sold $213 million worth of personal shares and even ARKX (an exchange-traded fund) which is run by billionaire investor Cathie Wood has left Virgin Galactic for good.

Here’s what CNBC said about the following: 

Ark cut its ARKX holding of Virgin Galactic by nearly half on April 20, after the stock slipped below $23. Shares continued to fall earlier this month, after Jeff Bezos’ venture Blue Origin announced plans to launch the first crewed flight of its space tourism rocket on July 20 – a move UBS warned likely removes Virgin Galactic’s first-mover advantage.

Wood’s firm unloaded almost all of the ETF’s remaining stake in early May, when the stock traded down near $15 a share. In all, the stock lost about half its value from ARKX’s debut to when the fund sold most of its position.

 

This was terrible news for them, also because the more partners left, the more their image weakened due to media backlash. 

The driving force:

If there is one simple answer it is advertising! The falling reputation of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic drove their founders to take to the skies themselves. But how did this decision solve everything? Even after their launch(in the present day), the space travel industry is still fairly new and it stands on weak pillars. So, convincing new investors just seems near impossible at the moment (with SpaceX being an exception). As a result, the only way to show their confidence and belief in their spacecraft and space endeavors was to fly into space themselves, instead of hiring random astronauts. 

Moments after the two billionaires touched down in space, every major news channel and blogging website had them in the spotlight. From The Wall Street Journal, CNBC and CNN, to even the New York Times had their attention. Furthermore, dozens of videos on YouTube and posts on all social media sites conjured out of thin air. This was all they needed!

This was the main reason that made them take the risk of going to space. 

 

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If you wish to know more about commercial space flights, I recommend reading ‘Commercial Space Exploration: Ethics, Policy and Governance

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Who is the youngest man that has been to space?

Oliver Daemen accompanied Jeff Bezos to space. And let me tell you, he is the youngest space traveler as of 20 July 2021, reaching the edge of space at just 18 years of age.

What happened after Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson made their own touchdowns?

Moments after the two billionaires touched down in space, every major news channel and blogging website had them in the spotlight. From The Wall Street Journal, CNBC and CNN, to even the New York Times had their attention. Furthermore, Dozens of videos on YouTube and posts on all social media sites conjured out of thin air.

How did Elon Musk's success affect Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic?

There is no doubt that Elon Musk was getting all the attention in the space industry. And who was being affected by all of this? Of course, our dear Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson! No matter how many milestones they reached and barriers they crossed, Elon Musk's SpaceX always kept foreshadowing their success.

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