Jeff Bezos became the second billionaire to blast into space on Tuesday, making a historic spaceflight. Still, not everyone’s cheering, with some calling it the pinnacle of waste and nearly 166,000 others signed the petition.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made history on Tuesday by launching and completing the first all-civilian, private flight into suborbital space. Aboard a rocket and capsule developed by his private spaceflight company Blue Origin, Bezos, 57, and three companions launched from a site in the west Texas desert southeast of El Paso. His New Shepard rocket blasted off at around 9:11 AM ET and accelerated toward space at triple the speed of sound. Reaching an altitude of 250,000 feet, the capsule separated, bringing Bezos and his crew to the edge of space.
During the peak of the flight, Bezos and three passengers achieved weightlessness for roughly 3 minutes. They unstrapped themselves and floated around inside the capsule while taking in the breathtaking panoramic views of the cosmos and Earth below.
The rocket ride reached a peak altitude of 351,210 feet, roughly 65 miles above the desert landscape. The craft then descended, been slowed by parachutes before the capsule landed in the Texas desert.
The entire supersonic journey was roughly 11 minutes in duration. Bezos can now add astronaut and his accomplishments and titles of entrepreneur and richest man in the world.
An opinion piece at MSNBC entitled “Jeff Bezos’ live Blue Origin space launch is the pinnacle of waste” lambasted the Amazon founder, as well as implying the same for the other members of the so-called billionaire space club.
Talia Lavin, MSNBC Opinion columnist, excoriated the billionaires going into space. Virgin Group billionaire Richard Branson, 70, who won the “billionaire space race,” became the first to venture into space, when he ascended 53 miles above the Earth on his Virgin Galactic aircraft 13 days ago.
Tesla founder Elon Musk, 50, also one of the world’s wealthiest people, still preparing his space X project is also expected to launch civilians into space on a multi-day mission, although a date is not set.
The piece criticized Bezos, Branson, and Musk, all of whom it claims “have all drawn on public coffers — as well as their enormous fortunes” to venture into space “after gorging themselves on the best of a plague-torn planet.”
The piece points out the enormous sums of money these corporate titans have invested in their space pursuits, much of it enhanced by government subsidies.
According to the piece, Musk received some $4.9 billion in government subsidies. In comparison, Virgin Galactic received contracts from NASA and $200 million in investment into a spaceport from the state of New Mexico. Bezos’ Blue Origin is still in the process of securing a $10 billion federal contract.
The piece further criticizes them for leaving “a planet burning and flooding and full of the small and ordinary suffering such fortunes could alleviate in an instant.”
The piece also called the United States “a poor steward of its citizens’ needs — from the abject failure of its health care system to appalling rates of poverty and food insecurity unparalleled in developed nations” for its continual space exploration while ignoring the “pressing earthly needs.”
As of 9:51 AM PDT, a petition entitled “Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth” at change.org was just shy of 166,000 signatures.
At the site, the petition is directed to “the proletariat.” The caption for the petition reads: “Billionaires should not exist…on earth, or in space, but should they decide the latter, they should stay there.”