Branson vs Bezos: who will really win this galactic billionaire bravado?
Either way, if their joyrides inspire us to take care of Earth or kids to reach for the stars, they’re a good thing
Within the next fortnight two of the Earth’s wealthiest individuals will attempt to fly into space. Richard Branson’s flight on Sunday aboard a Virgin Galactic Holdings spaceship will be followed by Jeff Bezos’s rocket trip with Blue Origin on July 20. At a time not lacking in awe-inspiring spectator sports, this rivalry remains unique. And it’s not without risk.
It’s taken a couple of decades for both men to realise their ambition of going into space. Blue Origin was founded in 2000 and Virgin Galactic four years later. The critics will harp that they could have devoted their time and money towards more worthy terrestrial endeavours (and paying more tax). Their jostling to be first smacks of billionaire bravado.
Yet the spectacle is unmissable. If seeing Earth’s majestic curvature inspires better care of this planet then I’m all for rich folks taking a joyride into space. (At about $250,000 — about R3,5m — a ticket to fly with Virgin Galactic, this remains a wealthy person’s pastime.)..