Congratulations Richard Branson

Back in the 70s, my g/f used to wear a T-shirt that bore a feminist/separatist variant of this meme:

I am perplexed by Wally Funk’s decision to join Jeff Bezos in his billionaire blast-off, because I can no longer in good faith hope that the spacecraft blows up. It’s as if Bezos invited Funk along as a shield against the hand of fate. Perhaps this is a “meeting in Samarra” story. [maugham]

Break a leg.


  1. StevoR says

    Better Branson than Bezos.

    For whatever very little its worth my thoughts here :

    Developing new technology and spacecraft is something we all learn from. It can also inspire people & entertain & create interest in a field that has at least somewhat seemed (probly misleadingly so) stagnant & not advancing since the Apollo Moonshot days when Human exploration of our cosmos reached its furthest limit so so far.

    Historically friendly competitions & races to reach various “firsts” in speed and distance have greatly helped develop aviation as a field. The speed race led ultimately to the development of the Supermarine Spitfire fighter that helped Britain win it’s air war against Nazi Germany. The long distance air race from Britain to Australia won by Ross Smith & his Vickers Vimy converted bomber* blazed a trail that led to modern commercial air travel – and air mail. The old blue ribbon challenge where various companies ocean liners vied to be fastest across the Atlantic led to ever bigger & better ships of their type too as a further example of many.

    Yes, we have a lot of problems here on Earth that urgently need addressing &, yes, billionaires esp one’s that get that way by inherited wealth & parasitically leeching off others & not paying tax etc.. are a thing we need to stop. Yes they need to pay much more tax. We have a flawed & unfair economic system where the richest 1% have a massive advantage & the rest of us are disadvantaged. Those with enormous wealth find it easy to constantly expand that wealth at everyone else’s expense & that needs to change.

    However, we can metaphorically walk & chew gum at the same time. Whilst the billionaires do currently have this excessive money & power; them using it to advance our technology, build rocketships and fly them to adventures is probly one of the better & more socially useful things they can do with their undeserved fortunes. Would people rather they spent the money they do have – like and deserve it or not & I do dislike it and say not – merely on their own luxury or buying more land or sports teams or politicians?

    This isn’t a binary either or choice & to claim it is is to set up a false dichotomy. We can spend money on space science & also, say, environmental science at the same time as well as reducing poverty and building infrastructure and producing better school curricula etc.. Better spacecraft can help us understand & be a useful practical tool in many things that benefit us in much more than just one area & technologically equip and empower many more people than just individual company or govt agency figureheads. Look at GPS uses, satellite mapping for all sorts of things incl weather forecasting and how the MRI machine arose from Hubble Space Telescope technology among other spin offs.

    There are a lot of people too who argue – wrongly & short-sightedly in my view – that tax-payer funded space exploration is a “waste of money.” That complain about the amount NASA gets to do space science & exploration even though that’s something like 1/10th of 1% of the USA’s total public budget. These private space billionaires are at least risking and spending their own money & – within certain legal limitations – we cannot tell them how to spend their money. Investing in science that develops amazing new spacecraft and inspires many to look at what people can achieve peacefully as team efforts seems vastly preferable to them merely spending it on their own personal luxury or further buying land and power.

    Let’s remember that the first space race between nations – the USA & Soviet Union – was problematic in some ways too. Nationalistic, militaristic as much about implied rocket threats & flag waving & at times a proxy paradoxical peaceful form of “war.” Yet it led to the ultimate in Human achievement so far, something that makes our species unique of all the life forms on our planet because we landed on our Moon and have put complex lifeforms including ourselves into orbit and returned many of them safely to Earth again and in the end did this “ peace for all Mankind.” (Sic.)

    So too, I hope this new private space race leads to new progress, improved technology, increased knowledge and capabilities for gaining knowledge, expanded horizons and renewed hope for many human lives.

    So let these billionaires build their rocketships and race them for now; whilst not forgetting to also – as a separate issue – tax them more later. Not ignoring the problematic aspects while also celebrating the good.

    But then I am biased here too, have always been and can’t help being a massive spaceflight and space exploration including human space exploration buff wanting, still, tosee peopelladn on Mars , the moon , asteroids and more. Hopefully in my lifetime and hopefully continuing after too.

    FWIW. Branson’s interview on Colbert here was pretty good I thought :

    Also an long (45 min approx) an “old” 4 Corners episode on the private space race from a year ago here :

    * See :

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