The Corner

Science & Tech

What Jeff Bezos’s Planned Trip into Space Could Mean for Mankind’s Future

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos laughs during the grand opening of Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, Wash., January 29, 2018. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is taking a trip to space on Blue Origin’s first human voyage. Accompanying him on his three-minute tour beyond the atmosphere will be his brother Mark Bezos and a third paying guest.

This piece of news, if slightly bizarre in the manner of a Babylon Bee headline, is hardly surprising. After all, where else does one venture, having attained the pinnacle of earthly, monetary power, if not literally beyond the terrestrial realm? “Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” Bezos wrote in the Instagram post in which he announced his plans for the pioneering voyage. Perhaps, having attained the title of the richest man on Earth, Bezos now sees fit to fulfil one of his few unfulfilled dreams.

The Internet may deride Bezos’s grandiose plan of a space expedition for its extravagance or resemblance to a child’s fantasy, but we should applaud his ambition. Indeed, the aspiration to explore space shares the same roots as the human desire for progress that has allowed mankind to prosper from modernization, advancement, and development. It also requires faith in humans’ capability to wield technology constructively and innovatively. The spirit of space expeditions may even resemble that of pioneers venturing across the American Plains, westward, in search of grander beauty.

Bezos’s trip to space would, if successful, prove to be a remarkable demonstration of the vitality of free enterprise and the successes achievable through the privatization of space exploration. NASA’s decision to outsource space-exploration projects has contributed to the expansion of the private space industry. The possibility of lucrative government contracts has incentivized corporations to invest resources and efforts, with considerable success, in the development of space technology to remain competitive. Such development is also prompted by the desire to spearhead the new and potentially enormously profitable industry of space travel.

Among the leading space companies, Bezos’s Blue Origin is not the only one taking long strides forward. Elon Musk’s Space X had announced plans to launch the first all-civilian mission to space in February. Virgin Galactic’s founder Richard Branson is allegedly attempting to reach space before Bezos does by securing himself a seat on a test flight scheduled to take off over the Fourth of July weekend. Another space race appears to be on the horizon — only this time, it is among corporations instead of nations. Consider this another reason to endorse the privatization of space exploration — a space race among nations could put polities at odds; a space race among corporations encourages innovation and progress.

Jeff Bezos may not be most conservatives’ favorite person, but Blue Origins’ pioneering success in space travel would prove that free enterprise is still the best way to organize most American industries, including the historically state-dominated space industry.

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