Friday, February 09, 2018

The Battle of the Space Billionaires

         By Chuck Black

The successful launch of SpaceX's first Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida earlier this week is a reminder that, where once space was a proxy battlefield between world powers for glory and scientific advancement, the modern space race is more of a business venture waged by eccentric, real life superhero stand-ins who run multi-billion dollar companies.

Has anyone else noticed the obvious similarities between this picture and the opening of the 1981 animated sci-fi movie "Heavy Metal?" According to the February 8th, 2018 CNBC post, "Elon Musk shares the epic last photo of 'Starman' in the red Tesla he shot into space," this was the last picture SpaceX was able to get of the Tesla Roadster it sent into space on Tuesday. But don't panic. There are plenty more billionaires intending to do similar things who are currently gearing up for their moment in the sun. Photo c/o SpaceX.

At least that's the context behind the February 8th, 2018 Sky News post, "Who's winning battle of space race billionaires?," which gives a quick update on those in the forefront of current space exploration.

They include SpaceX's Elon Musk, Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos and Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson.

According to the August 21th, 2017 Bloomberg Technology Post, "Billionaire Moguls Join Musk, Bezos in Race to Outer Space," sixteen of the world’s 500 richest people have an investment in a space enterprise, according to data compiled by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and consulting firm Bryce Space & Technology.

According to the post:
While technology tycoons dominate, the list also includes casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who’s backing a lunar mission, and Mexican retail and banking billionaire Ricardo Salinas, an investor in satellite network OneWeb.

Of course, billionaires are seldom the first to enter into new markets.

As outlined in the January 18th, 2018 post, "Private Investors Poured $3.9Bln into Commercial Space Companies Last Year,"  a record 120 private firms made investments in space in 2017, well over the previous peak of 89 in 2015.
Editors Note: Ex-NASA deputy administrator and current general manager of the Air Line Pilots Association (APA) Lori Garver thinks the current entrepreneurial space race will help to re-invigorate NASA as it begins to adapt many of their new tools. 
As outlined in her February 9th, 2018 The Hill editorial, "SpaceX could save NASA and the future of space exploration," the real question to be answered in Washington now is, "why would (the US) Congress continue to spend billions of taxpayer dollars a year on a government-made rocket (the Space Launch System or SLS) that is unnecessary and obsolete now that the private sector has shown they can do it for a fraction of the cost (with the Falcon Heavy)?"
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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