Billionaire Richard Branson went to space Sunday, sort of, and by Monday morning social media was full of people talking about how fed up they are with impossibly rich people creating a completely unnecessary space race between their rich friends while the rest of us are sweating it out down here on Earth. As the U.S. continues to experience severe heat waves that are melting concrete and leading state governments to beg residents not to use their microwaves, many are beginning to wonder why there isn’t a race to solve climate change instead.
First of all, we’ve already done the space race. Technically, the Soviet Union won that one, then the U.S. won the race to the moon, and now we have people in space literally all the time. It’s also been disputed as to whether Branson actually made it into space as his craft only made it 53 miles off the Earth’s surface—nine miles short of the internationally recognized line between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. However, he did get to float around his spaceship and feel special.
Others were displeased to find out that Branson’s company, Virgin Galactic, is subsidized by taxpayer money. None of these efforts by Branson, Musk, or Bezos to reach space seems to have any real application for helping the many poor, hungry, displaced, and oppressed here on Earth, but are all efforts to be the first to launch his luxury space travel and hospitality business for other obscenely rich folks.
The entire spectacle is really getting on the nerves of people who have been fighting to solve Earth’s problems but have been constantly dismissed by those who say it’s too expensive.