Space

Bezos, Branson, and the Billionaire-Funded Race To Make Space a Bargain

Billionaires are going to space. They will help us get there too.

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Last week, the billionaire businessman Richard Branson hurled himself into space on a ship he helped privately fund and develop and came back smiling. Now Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is doing the same. Billionaires launching themselves skyward on their own dime has occasioned a bitter debate about income inequality—and whether the government should be taking more of their wealth through taxation.

"Here on Earth, in the richest country on the planet, half our people live paycheck to paycheck," complained Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.). "But hey, the richest guys in the world are off in outer space! Yes. It's time to tax the billionaires."

The anger directed at Bezos, Branson, and SpaceX's Elon Musk stands in striking contrast to the high approval long enjoyed by NASA, even though the space agency spent the better part of the last decade unable to get humans off-planet at all while still soaking up billions in taxpayer dollars.

"Should billionaires play out their space travel fantasies," tweeted Rep. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.), a member of the NASA caucus, "or should we invest in schooling, provide healthcare, and create prosperity for everyone?"

The irony is that NASA takes our money without our consent to finance a space program that no ordinary citizen could ever hope to access. Yet when Branson, Musk, and Bezos spend their own wealth with the explicit goal of one day selling ever-cheaper tickets to all comers, that's when congressmen get grumpy.

There's every reason to believe the democratization of space travel is upon us—Bezos, Branson, and Musk have already delivered on that promise in other sectors—unless the government manages to screw things up. Following the pattern of commercial air travel in the 20th century, a novelty for billionaires today may well be accessible to the ordinary rich and then the middle class soon enough.

The billionaires also say they're taking a long-term view: One day the capacity to get off-planet cheaply and at scale could be humanity's salvation. But what they want or envision isn't what really matters. Just as bubble wrap was invented to be wallpaper and Listerine was for cleaning floors, consumers will decide where the private space industry ultimately leads.

Bezos, Branson, Musk, and others have overtaken a wildly expensive, ineffective government program and built a competitive industry, driving down the cost of getting a kilogram into Low Earth Orbit by 44-fold already. Which billionaire goes to space first, how high he flies, how big his rocket is, or how much of his income went to taxes last year—none of that matters. What matters is what the rest of us are going to do with access to those same spacecraft and bigger, better, and weirder ones in the years to come.

Photo Credits: Wallyfly.com; NASA; Blue Origin; SpaceX; Stefani Reynolds/CNP/AdMedia/Newscom; Karl Mondon/TNS/Newscom; Blue Origin/MEGA / Newscom; Michael Brochstein/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; Richard B. Levine/Newscom; ThaddeusCes, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Rocket Lab; Ken Cedeno/UPI/Newscom; Photo by Mishaal Zahed on Unsplash; Photo by David Maier on Unsplash; David mater Steve Jurvetson from Los Altos, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons; NASA/Bill Ingalls, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; NASA/Kim Shiflett; Oliver Contreras/Sipa USA/Newscom; Photo by Pablo Guerrero on Unsplash; Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash; Photo by Elizabeth French on Unsplash; Photo by K Hsu on Unsplash; Photo by Briana Tozour on Unsplash; Photo by Ryan Kosmides on Unsplash; Photo by Sébastien Goldberg on Unsplash; Virgin Galactic/ZUMA Press Wire Service; Virgin Galactic/ZUMA Press Wire Service

Written by Katherine Mangu-Ward; produced by Regan Taylor; footage by Isaac Reese.

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  1. Oh my god you don’t get it. Billionaires get rich by ripping off customers and employees. They’re going to space on the backs of the poor. Only government should spend billions of dollars because government is us, the people. Says it right there in the Constitution “We the People.” The rich aren’t the people. They’re rich. Unless it’s Soros or someone with the correct politics. They’re ok.

    1. They only want to go to space because then we won’t be able to get their wallets. Greed motivates 100% of capitalists minds.

      1. Oh sure, let’s make those greedy capitalists give ALL their wealth to the most inefficient institution on the planet, the government. It’ll last maybe ten days. Then they start going down the ladder. Of course stupid angry commies don’t care because they don’t produce anything any way.

      2. But they can have our wallets, amirite?

        Uh, no. Lay out your own cash or no Buck Rogers for you!

    2. If ya play with class warfare
      I feel bad for ya, son
      I got 99 problems
      But the rich ain’t one.

      1. I’ve got 99 problems and Government Cheese for the rich is one.

    3. Bezos, Branson, and the Billionaire-Funded Race To Make Space a Bargain

      Of course it’s a bargain if taxdollars pay for it. The fact that they spend less than NASA doesn’t change the principle either.

      Billionaires are going to space. They will help us get there too.

      Of course. All we have to do is climb the pile of National Debt extending into space.

      1. “…Of course it’s a bargain if taxdollars pay for it…”

        I don’t believe a single tp dollar went to fund either flight. You seem mi-informed.

  2. “One day the capacity to get off-planet cheaply and at scale could be humanity’s salvation.”

    Salvation from what? At scale meaning transporting millions of people? And to where would they go? For what purpose?

    Go read KSR’s Mars trilogy. Yes I know who he is and what he believes, but he’s one of the few who outlined exactly how difficult it would be to move millions of people away from danger to a planet that cannot support them (nor wants the extra people).

    1. So TIL Kim Stanley Robinson is a dude lol

    2. All due respect, but you’re missing the point. By a wide margin. The point isn’t to transfer the population at scale. I know of no one who thinks that’s realistic. The point is to not have all of humanity’s eggs in one basket–an extinction level event isn’t going to destroy the human race unless it can take out multiple planets* (not that such things aren’t a possibility, but a single asteroid, or comet, or what-have-you, wouldn’t do it).
      *Planets to include such things as, say large numbers of O’Neill type colonies…
      Addendum: KSR is a world-class SF writer. His understanding of economics and human nature is…suboptimal.

      1. And Elon Musk is actively building a fleet to supply a settlement of a million people on Mars. That is really his intention.

        I have no idea what he thinks a million people would do there in the next century, let alone a couple of decades, but that is what his Starship Factory is designed to do. Build hundreds of fully reusable starships so that whole fleets can go to Mars with hundreds of people every two years.

    3. “One day the capacity to get off-planet cheaply and at scale could be humanity’s salvation.”

      Salvation from what? At scale meaning transporting millions of people? And to where would they go? For what purpose?

      This always blows my mind. Something like 5 people have been born on Antarctica. 0 have been born at any appreciable depth below sea level. The idea that we will, as a species, flee to another planet and be just fine is beyond laughable. There’s a good 85% of this planet that’s nearly as pristine as before we discovered it that would still decidedly kill us if we tried to live there.

  3. Yet when Branson, Musk, and Bezos spend their own wealth with the explicit goal of one day selling ever-cheaper tickets to all comers, that’s when congressmen get grumpy.”

    Remember government does not like competition. Bezos and Branson & Musk are showing how it can be done. its the same reason its illegal to feed the homeless since private enterprise and people do it better than the government and private enterprise might solve a problem the government does not want solved. Again the government does not like competition

    1. The government paid for this so-called “competition” with our taxdollars. The only “competition” taking 0lace is two Welfare Queens are fighting for an EBT card in space.

      1. “The government paid for this so-called “competition” with our taxdollars.”

        Bullshit.
        Are you dishonest or stupid? Or both?

  4. “Here on Earth, in the richest country on the planet, half our people live paycheck to paycheck,” complained Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.). “But hey, the richest guys in the world are off in outer space! Yes. It’s time to tax the billionaires.”

    LOL

    I’m totally OK with Bernie talking this way about billionaires — as long as he obediently supports the President most billionaires wanted in the White House.

    #InDefenseOfBillionaires

  5. Except they’ve been able to build on decades of NASA research.

    But I bet the “free market rules all” crowd definitely loves to avoid addressing that. I mean, everybody has access to the state created GPS too every single day but hey- anything the govt does is terrible right?

    1. Except they’ve been able to build on decades of NASA research.

      Throwing shitloads of other peoples’ money at engineering problems isn’t research. And that’s all going to space is. Math. Lots and lots of math. Fuck NASA. They helped Uncle Sam wave his dick around during the Cold War, which is over. Let it die.

      1. And subsidies for billionaires with it.

        1. “And subsidies for billionaires with it.”

          You keep making asinine accusations, but it seems you don’t have anything like evidence.
          Put up, or STFU.

      2. The foundational research and development of modern rockets was performed by Robert Goddard and German rocket clubs – governments didn’t get involved till later. And government refinements were motivated solely to military applications. Government non-military use was politically motivated and hence had no long term utility or goal.

    2. “Except they’ve been able to build on decades of NASA research.”

      So if government ever funded anything ever, a private person cannot lay claim to it?

      If the government pays me for some printing service, and in the process of delivering that service, I invent something new, are my profits now 100% government owned? If not, why not?

      Do you know exactly which “NASA” research eg SpaceX is relying upon? How much is research that was performed by private contractors in the process of delivering services to NASA?

      1. The profits aren’t government-owned, but private firms should get off the Government Crack, get on the good foot, and do the bad thing of genuine Free-Market Capitalism!

        1. Fuck off, asshole.

          1. Sevo, my quarrel is not with you.

            Here’s your proof of Jeff Bezos sponging off of taxpayers, an article on the Web Site for The Foundation for Economic Education:

            Congress Is Trying to Give Jeff Bezos’s Space Firm $10 Billion of Your Taxdollars (Reason.com won’t let me post the link without moderation, but it is available via DuckDuckGo.)

            Here’s your proof of Richard Branson’s sponging off of taxpayers, an article from the UK Sun:

            ‘SHOULD WRITE THE CHEQUE HIMSELF’ Ryanair boss accuses Richard Branson of ‘fleecing’ UK taxpayers over £500m Virgin Atlantic bailout
            (Again, Reason.com won’t let me post the link, even though it allows all the other crap that gets on here daily.)

            Branson asked for this bailout even though The Virgin Corporation has about 300 other enterprises that it could have easily sold off to both to keep his airline in the air and to make this private space flight.

            In bailing out Branson’s Virgin Airlines, the government of UK also effectively subsidized his space flight too.

            Fight the real assholes!

            1. I am fighting the real assholes; uniformed assholes like you:
              “Congress Is Trying to Give Jeff Bezos’s Space Firm $10 Billion of Your Taxdollars”
              Yes, I looked it up and you should and READ it too. Bezos is getting tax breaks from local governments, not congress and tax breaks =/= subsidies.
              And, yes, money is fungible, but if the Brits want to fund whatever Branson does, I don’t care; that’s their issue.
              You’ve yet to come to grips with your main claim: No one should contract with the government!
              Fine. You set ups the government pen and pencil factories; get back to us after the first pencil comes off the line 10 years down the road.
              Sorry, but you’re in well over your head; probably better to shut up.

              1. Then you did read this: Amazon received more than $3.7 billion in taxpayer subsidies at the federal level alone.

                And this:

                That’s right. Since Bezos lost the bid, lawmakers are scrambling to make a second grant, in addition to the contract awarded to SpaceX. To make that happen they’re working to pass an amendment to the Endless Frontier Act—legislation meant to increase scientific research and technology funding.

                And this:

                As Charles Koch once said, “Subsidies and mandates are just two of the privileges that government can bestow on politically connected friends. Others include grants, loans, tax credits, favorable regulations, bailouts, loan guarantees, targeted tax breaks and no-bid contracts.”

                Tax breaks may not seem like subsidies in isolation, but if government keeps or expands it’s levels of spending, the tax break has to be made up for in somebody else’s taxes somewhere down the line. And if tax breaks are only given to one person or class and not others, that is government picking winners and losers, a subsidy if ever there was one.

                What I said was is that a genuine Free-Market Capitalist doesn’t do government contracts.

                Things might be different if government were limited to Miniarchist Libertarian functions of defense, police, and courts operating on NAP/NIFF principles and voluntarily funded.

                But with the governments we have now, to take on a government contract is for business to profit from and serve stagnation, tyranny, destruction, and death. It would be no different than Occidental Petroleum with the Soviets, I.G. Farben with the Nazis, or Ford Motor Company with both.

                I may be in over my head, but at least I can dog-paddle, back-stroke, and use my pants as a life-preserver all by myself, something billionaire Welfare Queens evidently can’t do.

    3. So if they can build on NASA’s research, why couldn’t NASA build on their own research, instead of having to contract with private companies to get stuff into space?

      If government is inherently better at everything, then private industry should always lag behind, and yet almost as soon as private spaceflight companies got started they overtook NASA in both technology and efficiency

    4. And how many times has the government done something based on years and decades of private research, and you’ve never complained?

    5. And NASA has been living off cred for the moon landing for fifty years. Do something, or get out of the way.

    6. Tang Nazi says “No Tang for you”.

      1. Tang existed in the 1950s before the Space Program. Same likewise with Teflon, which existed in the 1930s. All NASA did was more or less marketing by showing their applications.

        Now if Phil Swift could make a space capsule out of Flex Seal Tape and his own funds, that would be something to see! YEEEE-HAW! LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!

    7. And the US space program exists because of the Nazi rocket program. What is your point?

    8. Also nasa subcontracted all the actual work

  6. I am all for privatizing space. No problem with that. But it’s a bit rosy to say space will be democratized and a bit crazy to think space travel will be humanity’s salvation, unless you are a godless utopian.

    1. It’s like 60/40 at Reason. Some days I can see Welsh’s Utopian bent begin to crack.

    2. Space travel is the least of this. If someone can come up with a better propulsion system than rocketry travel to anywhere on the planet can be reduced to 40 minutes inflight.

    3. The key to making space travel compatible with freedom is not just privitization and competition, but also individualized, modular life support systems. Whoever controls the means of oxygen and water provision would have the power of life and death in space, just as whoever controls energy, food, and health care has that same power on Earth.

    4. SpaceX is building a ship that should be able to take you and a few hundred of your friends into orbit for less than $20 grand. People have run the numbers, and it legitimately makes sense. Musk has touted suborbital flights from London to Hong Kong in a half hour for a price competitive with an airline ticket.

      Yeah… If “regular folks can do it” is what democratize means, then it is indeed plausibly on the horizon. Starship should be able to deploy cubesats for thousands of dollars instead of millions within a few years. They are looking to get internal costs for a single launch down around a million bucks. This, for the largest rocket ever built, with the capacity to launch 400 starlink satellites in a single launch.

  7. It’s interesting. I was watching “Machines That Built America” on the History Channel last night. This same kind of thing happened at the dawn of aviation (and post-WW2 auto industry). Rich guys competing against each other for ego and profit, and advancing the state of the art at the same time.

  8. It cannot be overstated how much focusing on the results rather than intentions- long term, rather than short term- results in these sea changes.

    On the one hand you have the healthcare and university industries where it is morally unacceptable to contemplate the rich getting better access to services and results. On the other hands you have industries like space and electronics where the rich reward innovation and improvement while businesses have an incentive to unlock larger markets with better pricing.

    In the former market, costs keep going up, while in the latter costs are relentlessly driven down. If the people bemoaning capitalism had any class or self awareness, they would see the stark difference in results vs intentions and sue their alma mater.

    1. The difference is that healthcare and education are basic rights, while space and electronics are not.

      Don’t worry though, once space and electronics are declared to be basic rights, costs will skyrocket and innovation will mostly cease.

      1. Progressive slavery.

  9. ‘Billionaire funded’?

    These guys are funding this through profits from their companies and private investors?

    Or – is it mostly funded through government subsidies?

    1. Government contracts are not the same as government subsidies.

      1. Neither are tax breaks. Not stealing doesn’t equal giving. Unless you’re Tony.

      2. At the same time, using the money to start a business or donating it to the poor is a bit of a moot distinction after it’s been taken from my pocket.

      3. So how does government pay it’s contracts, with love? Good looks?

        1. Certainly not from taxes paid by poor people.

          1. But government does tax other people of some means, from the middle class on up to other millionaires and billionaires. And the poor pay for these taxes in the form of higher costs for goods and services, so it’s still not rainbows and unicorn farts that fund government contracts.

            1. You seem to be working hard to prove that sarc is not the bottom rung on the intelligence ladder here.
              Are you suggesting that the government not contract with private suppliers at all, or are you just confused?

              1. A real Free-Market Capitalist would shun all government contracts and subsidies and live or die by his or her own efforts producing and selling goods and services for other private individuals and firms.

                The only thing the Free Market Capitalist asks from government is Equal Protection of Life, Liberty, and Property Before the Law. He or she would also ask for less taxes and regulation…but for the entire marketplace, not just as a Crony favor.

                Yes, that would mean less market share in our present society…

                Yes, it would mean businesses would make their headquarters and branch offices only in the most freedom-friendly jurisdictions,…

                But it also means what’s yours is yours without government purse-strings. I’d have it no other way.

                1. “A real Free-Market Capitalist would shun all government contracts and subsidies and live or die by his or her own efforts producing and selling goods and services for other private individuals and firms…”

                  You really are full of shit, and an ‘immature thinker’ as well.
                  Do you assume the government could organize and run aircraft and armaments factories for defense?
                  How about, oh, pencil and paper factories? Underware factories?
                  Sorry, your premise is adolescent at best; 12 years old?

                  1. I’m not saying government can do any of those things or should try. But a businessperson still doesn’t have to contract with them. And if they value their independence, they shouldn’t contract with governments that don’t respect Individual Rights and Free-Market Capitalism, which is, to one extent or another, every government out there.

    2. They have some NASA contracts. Also a huge pile of cash. The company is publicly traded. They have funding from big foreign investors as well.

  10. “Should billionaires play out their space travel fantasies,” tweeted Rep. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.), a member of the NASA caucus, “or should we invest in schooling, provide healthcare, and create prosperity for everyone?”

    Nothing can be more democratic than believing we all have a right to vote on what people can do with their own money. And nothing can be dumber than believing government knows how to create prosperity for everyone.

    1. “And nothing can be dumber than believing government knows how to create prosperity for everyone.”

      Biden’s American Prosperity program will create 6 zillion jobs! Mostly building 19th century modes of transportation.

    2. It gets frustrating that we continue to force the idea that the difference between here and perfection is some random set of super wealthy whose combined lifetime worth is like 20% of our annual budget.

  11. Richard Branson in that photo looks like a cross between Donald Trump and Tony Stark.

    1. Shhhhhhhhhhh! That’s because he is!

    2. My God… It’s McAfee in a fake wig and goatee!

      1. So… He faked his death in that Spanish jail, and his plan is to escape the feds by fleeing into outer space?

        My god, the man really *is* a genius supervillain! I love it!

  12. Exactly how far above my property does it cease to become mine and, instead, belongs to Musk/Bezos/Branson? Can I just launch a rocket or fill out an application to extend my claim or is it the sort of thing where I have to have a government contract and then my dominion extends to the entire LOS below my satellite(s)?

    Similarly, while the notion of “Nobody can own the moon.” is effective for the space race between two superpowers, it comes across as kind of quaint when we think about Musk sending people to Mars. He (or his survivors and corporate board) will effectively be kings of the “habitable” portions of Mars for at least a little bit and while I understand that a certain chain of command is required to get things off the ground, so to speak, I’m dubious as to the mutual sustainability of “corporate entities as infallible sovereignty” and individual liberty. It wasn’t The Queen’s Tea we tossed into Boston Harbor, it was tea the EIC imported from China.

    1. I believe that you effectively control the airspace about 500 feet above your tallest structure. Anything above that and effectively nobody owns it. Air traffic control ensures safe separation, but otherwise, everyone from Delta airline to a bro in a Cessna can do mostly whatever they want.

      On the other hand, you have first dibs. So, you can build as high as you want (within zoning rules and building code) and the maps get updated so planes have to fly higher or around your structure and pilots can’t really complain (some exceptions exist if your property is in the flight path of take off or approach for an airport).

      Thus far, the tallest structures are around 3000 feet, which is a pretty low altitude for planes (cruising altitude for jets is generally in the region of 30,000 feet). So the discussion of rights to the sky has been fairly academic. Rights to space, even more so. If I had to guess, I would say that international governance will try to avoid allowing any claims to the sky (including buildings) above 100km (roughly 300,000 feet).

      1. Claims to space are an interesting subject
        They mostly follow old pioneer rules: first person to improve a part of space gets to effectively own that space plus some level of buffer. It is not true ownershipb though in that if you fail to make productive use of it for too long, you lose all rights to it. Otherwise, it does act like a property right in that you can sell and transfer it. There is an office in the UN that you file claims to, and most wireless spectrum authorities (such as FCC in the US) around the globe help enforce it.

        1. It is not true ownershipb though in that if you fail to make productive use of it for too long, you lose all rights to it.

          Which, in a sense, makes all ownership null/void. Not directly, but through a far-reaching space/information ownership that would make Land Barons of the 19th Century look like cavemen.

        2. I thought that the UN had a Treaty (which the U.S. stupidly signed onto) that prohibited either nations or private individuals from owning in whole or in part planetary bodies and natural objects in space, as well as that prohibited the carrying of weapons in space. Basically, the UN thinks it “owns the world und space” just like You Know Who Else.

          1. I am sure that this idea will very quickly die as soon as it becomes possible to actually make use of some territory in space. I think the idea of the treaty was to avoid “we stuck a flag on it, we own it” claims from proliferating.

            1. I am sure that this idea will very quickly die as soon as it becomes possible to actually make use of some territory in space.

              Die or metastasize. No “We stuck a flag on it.”, lots of “SpaceX landed a rocket on it and the UN asked Musk to give a speech.” Then, when it turns out Russian hackers hijacked something or the FBI has been using baseless warrants to use the satellites to gather information on American citizens, it won’t be a problem for ‘libertarians’ because the UN isn’t a government, SpaceX is a private corporation, and Musk is a private citizen.

      2. I’ve taken dozens of Californians up into my airplane, drunk as they always are it is easy to convince them, and murdered them. I then float their corpse out I a hot air balloon and not even God can prosecute me.

    2. It depends on your jurisdiction but generally you have reasonable control of ~500 feet above your property, above that the FAA controls it

    3. You can’t shoot down drones flying over your property, so not very far, apparently.

      1. Much less shoot down drones over my neighbors’ property that have line of sight into my home.

        If you really want privacy, you should just live in a windowless hole.

  13. Yes I know who he is and what he believes, but he’s one of the few who outlined exactly how difficult it would be to move millions of people away from danger to a planet that cannot support them (nor wants the extra people).

    1. “…(nor wants the extra people)…”

      A planet has DESIRES?

  14. “Should billionaires play out their space travel fantasies,” tweeted Rep. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.), a member of the NASA caucus, “or should we invest in schooling, provide healthcare, and create prosperity for everyone?”

    Those guys pissing away all their money on a weekend in Vegas would do more for “everyone” than if it was stolen from them with taxes.

    Unless you think the US government is in the business of making sound fiscal decisions to “create prosperity for everyone”.

    1. If only those guys were pissing away their own money in Vegas, but they aren’t.

      1. Ya know, it’s obvious you are full of shit.

  15. The only one of them who can plausibly be said to be working to decrease the costs of going into space is Musk.

    The others are mostly vanity projects and any broader benefits will strictly be byproducts.

    Not that that’s wrong. It wasn’t too long ago when vanity projects involved funding, organizing and accompanying all sorts of explorations and research in remote corners on Earth.

    The world needs the occasional Michael Rockerfeller.

  16. This article leaves out how heavily tax-funded this space effort is. These billionaires have pocketed a tremendous amount of engineering from NASA

    1. and everything goes back to teh wright brothers, so how much does NASA owe them. Even their work goes back to kite makers how much do they owe them. Even nuclear energy goes back to the initial makers of steam engines also not government funded.

      1. Whoosh goes the rocket.

        Just like the point.

        1. Whoosh!
          You’re too short to have gotten the point.

  17. Branson didn’t go into space.

    Most the other supposedly private space companies who actually do go into space still have a ton of government contracts so I really don’t see how they are different from Boeing or Northrup.

    1. SpaceX built and flew their Falcon 1 orbital rocket with no government contracts. Boeing and Northrup won’t start a memo without a contract.

    2. If you don’t see the difference…. Look again.

      Simple example: SpaceX and Boeing were both contracted to build crafts to take people to the ISS. Boeing got nearly double the amount that SpaceX received, then went back for another $300 million…. Yet SpaceX is already flying missions to the ISS and Boeing is still planning their first uncrewed test flight to the ISS this summer.

      Look at SLS. Even if you don’t count the project that came before (and you should), we have spent some $20 billion bucks on this heavy lift vehicle. It is designed from recycled parts of the shuttle to be fast and cheap. Best case: it will cost over a billion per launch. It has been in the works since 2011and has yet to fly any hardware.

      SpaceX began working on their superheavy rocket years later, have spent a couple of billion and should have an orbital test article this year. They aim for full reusability and a cost per launch in the single digit millions.

      They are as different as night and day.

  18. “”Should billionaires play out their space travel fantasies, tweeted Rep. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.), a member of the NASA caucus, ”

    It’s their money. Liberal asswipe economists say the “trickle down economy” is a myth. I say it isn’t. These programs are creating jobs, paying people and those people are spending their money, creating jobs for other people and so on.

    Building on NASA is the biggest joke I’ve ever heard. All NASA did was to coordinate private companies to put together the spacecraft. Mc Donnell Douglas, Grumman and other companies did the research, developed the hardware that did the missions. NASA SHOULD have licensed the developments that they paid for. That would have made NASA self-sustaining. Oh wait, CONGRESS said that they couldn’t. Think that one through.

  19. The rich and left, headed to space while people sleep in tents by the freeway. I’m OK, if that’s what you want to do, and support, but don’t be crying about compassion, equity, and similar.

  20. “What matters is what the rest of us are going to do with access to those same spacecraft and bigger, better, and weirder ones in the years to come.”

    Hint: Billionaire astronauts will still need waiters, valets, maids, butlers, chauffeurs, nannies, cooks, nurses, hairstylists, manicurists, and a host of other menial positions.

  21. Has comrade Bernie opened up his Lake Champlain estate to the downtrodden? I must have missed that.

  22. The human race flourishes in a frontier where we are free to expand. The next step in our evolution is to expand into space. If we leave space to centralized planning the realization is that we will never see space as a frontier. The free market approach of having a competitive approach conversely is far more likely that we will achieve success.

    If these billionaires want to compete in this race, then I laud their efforts. Better that their monies are spend on a worthwhile endeavor than spent on purely luxury goods (which can at least be enjoyed) or even worse to be confiscated by a corrupt government bureaucracy (which would be a complete and utter waste).

    1. Agreed. And we’ll get there even faster when Bezos, Branson, and Musk stop suckling the Welfare Teat of curdled Gummint Cheeze.

      1. You really are full of shit.

  23. It’s time to tax the billionaires.

    The billionaires are taxed.

  24. The penis head landed safety. God bless America!

    1. The lefty pile of shit posted lefty piles of shit.
      GFY.

  25. Certainly their money to waste in any manner they see fit; but in Matthew 25:14-30, (parable of the talents) Bezos and Branson represent the man who wasted his time and talent. Nothing will be gained or lost from this, making it a total waste of time. I wonder what people would say if they wasted a trillion gallons of water that happened to be located on their private property?

    1. One, to the extent that they take taxdollars, it is not their money.

      Two, Jesus told the rich man to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow him to obtain eternal life and Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to Heaven (Matthew 19:16-24.).

      So, from a standpoint of Christianity, what’s the point of growing “talents” if you are going to have to give them up anyway?

      As for water, relax. It evaporates into the atmosphere with heat, then falls back to Earth elsewhere. And according to noted Earth observer David Byrne, there is water at the bottom of the ocean.

  26. We’re all in outer space. The whole planet is in outer space. Don’t need a rocket and don’t need to spend a dime.

    1. True, but the operative term is “elsewhere” in space, you clever devil. 🙂

  27. It’s time to tax the billionaires.

    1. Given that you have “88” in your handle, are there any (((particular ones))) you have in mind?

  28. It’s inaccurate to lump Musk in with the other two.

  29. Billionaires are going to space really?

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