Tencent technology news on July 22, with Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson completing suborbital space flight one after another this month, the space commercialization trend is irreversible.
July 20 is the anniversary of the Apollo mission to the moon. This year’s Day is a small step in space travel, but it’s a big step for the billionaires going into space.
Bezos and Branson confirmed this month that it seems safe to fly to the edge of space just for fun. Even if there is only 10 minutes to get rid of the problems on earth, it is a relief. More than 10 minutes is about the total time of suborbital space travel provided by the two entrepreneurs’ Blue origin or Virgin Galactic.
But in addition to this dazzling scene, the two men’s action also conveyed a deeper message: the commercialization of space for the public has started. Space, like retailing, is now starting to become an area for technology companies. Companies that sell Amazon and other Internet services to consumers are now selling star sea.
Amazon founder Bezos made it clear after completing the space flight on Tuesday that blue origin has started its space tourism business. Although there is no definite boarding date, ticket sales have reached nearly $100 million. Bezos did not disclose the exact price of each ticket, but added that “demand is very, very high.”
Long before the media swarmed to Van Horn, Texas, this demand existed. People saw a well planned event, in which the world’s oldest astronaut and the world’s youngest astronaut went into space together, and the jubilant Bezos later donated $200 million to charity, pushing the event to a climax again.
Photo: Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, celebrates the completion of his space trip.
Although Elon Musk, the chief executive of rival SpaceX, often questions Bezos’s space dream, he has to congratulate him now. Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, also congratulated Bezos on his space trip.
From cutting edge technology to commercialization
All of these space activities are new beginnings, but they are also a repetition of the evolution of the Internet in the 1990s. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Internet is still a special tool for research and communication. In the next 20 years, many companies in the Internet business have grown into technology giants. Bezos has made the Internet a place where everyone can shop, so that the public worries that Amazon, Facebook, Google and apple are too powerful now.
Outer space may also begin to develop from cutting-edge technology to commercialization, just like the Internet.
For decades, NASA didn’t have enough money to launch large projects like the Apollo moon program. If the goal of returning to the moon in 2024 can be achieved, it will also be achieved with the help of SpaceX, blue origin and other companies. Compared with the Apollo program of the 1960s, the next trip to the moon will be outsourced to private companies.
Image: astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969
Smaller space projects are even more open to entrepreneurs.
“If you look at today’s space environment, especially in low earth orbit, it’s really very similar to the early Internet,” said West Griffin, chief financial officer of axiom, a start-up dedicated to building the first commercial space station.
The commercialization of space began with the Internet boom in the 1990s, but it took longer to bear fruit. Branson’s space flight this month dates back to the race announced by X Prize in 1996. The non-profit organization has offered $10 million to encourage people to build reusable spacecraft, requiring people to be sent twice to the edge of space 100 kilometers above the ground in just two weeks.
The X Prize winner in 2004 was SpaceShipOne, designed by Burt Rutan, a space engineer. He also designed Voyager, which can fly around the world without interruption, with the support of the late Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.
The X Prize also sparked Branson’s interest. As early as 1999, Branson registered Virgin Galactic airlines, and then obtained the technology license of spaceship one. Branson hopes to build a bigger spaceship on the basis of spaceship one and start commercial space flight within three years. But the journey took Virgin Galactic 17 years.
As Megan Crawford, managing partner of spacefund, a venture capital firm, says, the ecosystem of space start-ups is growing. They are trying to commercialize space by developing lower cost launch technologies, making smaller satellites, or building space infrastructure.
“Now people look around and say,” the space industry is very developed. Where does this come from? ‘” Crawford said“ Well, it’s built step by step. We’ve made a lot of efforts in the past 30 years to get to where we are today. ”
According to Bryce tech, a space market analyst, investors will invest $7 billion in space startups in 2020, double the amount two years ago.
“What we’re going to do now is do what Bezos, Branson and musk did 20 years ago, which is to build a great enterprise,” said Chris Kemp, CEO of Astra, a start-up focused on developing new launch technologies. The difference is that they started their own business on earth, and we built it in space from the very beginning. ”
Love and kill each other
The first space race ran through the 1960s. The two sides of the race were the United States and the Soviet Union. Many critics believe that the space race is a mistake at a time when there are so many issues to focus on in the United States.
Image: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
This time, too. An online petition to ban Bezos from returning to earth has received 180000 virtual signatures. “It’s time for Bezos to take care of business on earth and pay the taxes he should pay,” Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said on personal social media
Musk published several paragraphs on personal social media for the space project platform: “those who attack space exploration / may not realize / for so many people / space represents hope.”. Musk’s tweet received more than 250000 “likes”, but there was also such a response: “no one is attacking space exploration. We are attacking the billionaires who have accumulated huge wealth by exploiting the labor force. ”
In an interview at the Texas launch site on Monday, Bezos said the criticisms were “basically correct.”.
“We have to do both,” Bezos said“ There are many problems on earth now, and we need to solve them. But we also need to look to the future. ”
Clearly Bezos is more concerned with looking to the future. In 1982, Bezos, as a high school graduation representative, talked about the importance of creating a habitat for millions of people in space. “The whole idea is to protect the earth,” he said at the time Bezos added that his ultimate goal was to see the earth “become a huge national park.”.
Bezos said the same thing this week. It’s a grand dream with many complex elements. If the idea is narrowed down, it’s actually the same as selling everyone everything and delivering it to your door in a few hours. To the surprise of almost everyone, Bezos has done it.
Image: Bezos and crew members take a picture on Tuesday.
In addition to Virgin Galactic, Branson founded another space company, virgin orbit, whose main business is to launch small payloads into orbit. Compared with musk and Bezos, Branson did not express the grand vision of spreading human civilization to the solar system.
Musk’s Mars dream began with a small exploration: he wanted to send a plant to Mars to see if it could grow there. But the cost of finding an agency to launch a rocket to complete the experiment was exorbitant, so musk founded SpaceX in 2002.
Now musk wants to send people, not plants, to Mars. SpaceX is currently developing a starship and a Starlink Internet, the latter with the main purpose of generating funding for the Mars program.
In pursuit of these goals, SpaceX has become a giant in the space industry. NASA relies on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and dragon spacecraft to send astronauts and cargo to the international space station. Many satellite operators use reusable Falcon 9 rocket to put their satellites into orbit.
NASA has also recently signed a contract with SpaceX to use the spacecraft for the astronaut moon landing program. The contract was opposed by companies such as blue origin. Although this week’s billionaires seem to be friends in a pair of pants when it comes to space flight, they entered the industry just to win（ (translated by Tencent technology / Jiao Han)