Jeff Bezos admits that his space critics are ‘largely right’

By Monica Athnasious

Published Jul 20, 2021 at 11:06 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

The time has finally come, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is jetting off to space this afternoon. Blue Origin—Bezos’ privately held space company—is finally ready for its first human spaceflight. The passengers are Bezos himself, his brother Mark Bezos, trailblazing pilot Wally Funk and teenager Oliver Daemen. The flight will see the passengers float in microgravity for a few minutes before making a swift return back to Earth—sorry, the petition to keep him there didn’t work.

The entirety of their trip—from beginning to end—will be shown through an online live stream on the Blue Origin website. The live stream will begin at 7.30 a.m. ET or 12.30 p.m. GMT—with the expected takeoff scheduled for 9 a.m. ET and 2 p.m. in the UK. Get the popcorn ready, another billionaire is going to fly around space and try to relate to us—I’m looking at you, Richard Branson.

Bezos, Branson and Musk have quite obviously been criticised for these expensive trips and investment in space travel while there is huge inequality and a climate crisis that needs dealing with. Taking a closer look at the Moon can wait. And apparently he agrees? Well, not quite.

When asked directly for a response to this criticism, Bezos told CNN, “They’re largely right, we have to do both. You know, we have lots of problems here and now on Earth and we need to work on those, and we always need to look to the future. We’ve always done that.” He continued by saying that the mission’s goal was to build “a road to space for the next generations to do amazing things here, and those amazing things will solve problems here on Earth.”

Now call me crazy, but I don’t think you need to spend billions on an 11 minute joyride just so maybe someone in the future finds something cool. You could just help Earth now—or let’s start small, shall we? Help your employees, Bezos. Robert Reich, Professor at Berkeley University, and avid billionaire critic wrote on Twitter, “Billionaires rocketing off to space isn’t a sign of progress. It’s a sign of grotesque inequality that allows a select few to leave Earth behind while the rest of humanity suffers.”

Reich continued stating that “the next time someone claims billionaires rocketing off to space is a sign of societal progress and heroism, remind them there are basically four ways to accumulate a billion dollars in America: profiting from a monopoly, insider trading, political payoffs and inheritance.”

Reich couldn’t be more accurate. When telling CNN about the “next generations” who will do amazing things, Bezos gestures to teenager Daeman. “Maybe it will be Oliver, he’s eighteen, maybe he’ll found a space company that uses the infrastructure that this generation is building right now.” Daeman, however, is no ordinary teenager. Not initially a part of the flight, Daeman’s seat opened up when a mystery millionaire—the winner of the open auction—who paid $28 million backed out. Daeman’s father was second in line and so the ticket was passed over to him. Although the price has not been revealed, there are obvious assumptions that it’s close to the highest bid of $28 million. Rich people, am I right?

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