Why do the world’s two richest men want to get off the planet so badly?
Elon Musk of Tesla and Jeff Bezos of Amazon have more than $350 billion in combined wealth and preside over two of the most valuable companies ever created. But when they’re not innovating on Earth, they have been focusing their considerable brainpower on bringing a multi-planetary human habitat to reality.
For Mr Musk, it’s through his other company, SpaceX, which has become an even bigger player in the private space-technology arena. On top of satellite launches and other rocket innovations, the company announced it would send its first “all civilian” crew into orbit at the end of the year in a mission called Inspiration4. SpaceX has already carried NASA astronauts to the International Space Station and is planning to transport more and private astronauts for a high price.
Most ambitiously, Mr. Musk has said that SpaceX will land humans on Mars by 2026. To do that, the private company will use a chunk of the close to $3 billion — including $850 million announced this week in a regulatory filing — that it has raised over the last year to finance this herculean effort.
While Mr Musk might not be the first human to go to the red planet, he once told me that he wanted to die there, joking, “Just not on landing.”
Like SpaceX, Blue Origin is working on payload launches and reusable orbital launch vehicles, as well as on moon-landing technology, to achieve what Mr Bezos once called “low-cost access to space.” Blue Origin executives said recently that the company is close to blasting off into space with humans.
Mr Bezos’ most extravagant notion, unveiled in 2019, is a vision of space colonies — spinning cylinders floating out there with all kinds of environments.
“These are huge structures, miles on end, and they hold a million people or more each,” he said, noting they are intended to relieve the stress on Earth and help make it more livable
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