2021 Notebook: Billionaires and the space race » sarkariaresult

THE BACKGROUND: Captain Kirk — aka William Shatner — lastly made it into area, a part of the brand new wave of civilian vacationers sponsored by names like Bezos, Musk and Branson who’re slipping the surly bonds of Earth 10 years after NASA’s shuttle program ended. However there are huge variations.

What does entrepreneurial area journey have in widespread with its extra nation-focused counterpart, and what are the contrasts? How are company area jaunts altering the face of the journey?

Right here, one Related Press journalist and knowledgeable concerned within the protection displays on the story and her personal experiences.


MARCIA DUNN, AP aerospace author since 1990:

This 12 months it was surreal to see extraordinary individuals being escorted to the launch pad to blast into area. I imply, I’ve seen the astronauts, the professionals, the cosmonauts — I have been to Baikonur to see the Russians launch individuals — however seeing extraordinary individuals simply exit to the launch pad, climb right into a rocket and blast into orbit, that’s what occurred on the Kennedy House Middle right here. First time within the U.S. the place paying clients blasted into orbit. And I’ve to say, sure, the man main the cost is a wealthy man who paid for the whole flight, however he took three extraordinary individuals with him. And that was — I used to be simply standing right here amazed, shaking my head seeing science fiction flip into science truth.


It was simply outstanding to be on website when Jeff Bezos climbed aboard his personal rocket to develop into the primary particular person on the earth to fly his personal rocket and to take alongside his brother, proper? And two others, the oldest and the youngest individuals in area. It’s simply mind-boggling. And I actually assume that the doorways to area are lastly being opened. Proper now. Sure, for individuals who can solely afford it or who had been fortunate sufficient to be picked in a lottery or who possibly have the correct connections. However that is the way in which ahead, and it’s simply actually an thrilling time to be protecting the area program.


Sure, there are angles, I imply, product placement, as an illustration, similar to within the films — sure candies that had been taken up on a few of these flights and readily recognized. The champagne popping after the landing. The champagnes had been recognized. You have by no means seen NASA hawking merchandise like that — despite the fact that I need to say now they’re changing into increasingly open to this concept. So there’s that type of factor.

There’s much more vulnerability in the way in which these non-public individuals are. You realize, they’re not pretending to be completely courageous gladiators going off into the sector. They admit to their vulnerabilities. On the similar time, nevertheless, entry is typically restricted. When NASA sends a crew up, typically we get to speak to them with interviews earlier than and afterward. That’s not all the time the case with non-public individuals.

Most famously, after the Bezos launch. I used to be one among dozens of reporters in a hangar ready for a information convention after the flight, and virtually the whole information convention was dedicated to primarily the advertising, ticket gross sales girl for the corporate asking all of the questions. I feel there have been solely a few questions from reporters. I didn’t get an opportunity to even ask. In order that’s the flip facet as a result of it’s non-public. There is no such thing as a want for anyone to speak to journalists until they wish to. You must surprise even down the highway, maybe these corporations will not even be compelled to say who’s flying on board. It’s non-public data. Not essentially having to be divulged.


Who wasn’t enthusiastic about Captain Kirk going into the into area on the age of 90, for goodness sakes? Simply at present, we had a Japanese billionaire who took his personal private assistant with him. They only rocketed into orbit and docked on the area station, only a few minutes in the past. I feel that the boundaries of who goes up from the place are going to begin to blur. … And the aim, in fact, is to transcend low Earth orbit to get to the moon, to Mars. Elon Musk isn’t going to be glad till he’s acquired individuals on Mars. So, no, we’re not on the Jetsons. We could by no means be on the Jetsons the place all of us have our little spaceships and go from house to work like so lots of the films painting. However, man, I imply, who would have considered this simply 10 years after the tip of the shuttle program? I drove into the Kennedy House Middle this morning, and one of many previous bar and grills — type of a greasy spoon type of place for many years — was known as Shuttles, proper? They only modified arms. And the massive enroll in Shuttles is now “Galaxy.” In order that’s now the place we’re headed.


For a full overview of the occasions that formed 2021, “A 12 months That Modified Us: 12 Months in 150 Pictures,” a set of AP pictures and journalists’ recollections, is obtainable now: https://www.ap.org/books/a-year-that-changed-us

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