Jeff Bezos’ brief trip to space was also a commercial for Rivian

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The Verge 21 July, 2021 - 01:20pm 32 views

Where did the Blue Origin launch take place?

It was quite the media spectacle. The mission took place at Launch Site One, Blue Origin's sprawling and secretive facility that sits around thirty miles north of the small town of Van Horn, Texas. TechCrunchBlue Origin’s New Shepard carries Jeff Bezos and three crew members to space and back

Who went with Bezos?

Billionaire Jeff Bezos has made a short journey to space, in the first crewed flight of his rocket ship, New Shepard. He was accompanied by Mark Bezos, his brother, Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pioneer of the space race, and an 18-year-old student. BBC NewsJeff Bezos launches to space aboard New Shepard rocket ship

Did Bezos actually go into space?

Jeff Bezos, the richest human in the world, went to space on Tuesday. It was a brief jaunt — rising 60-some miles into the sky above West Texas — in a spacecraft that was built by Mr. Bezos' rocket company, Blue Origin. The New York Times‘Best Day Ever’: Highlights From Bezos and Blue Origin Crew’s Short Flight to Space

What did Jeff Bezos do in space?

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET on July 20, 2021. VAN HORN, Texas—Jeff Bezos really flew to space. This morning, the richest person on Earth boarded a reusable rocket he dreamed up and funded, launched to the edge of space to experience a few minutes of weightlessness, and then came back down. The AtlanticJeff Bezos Really Flew to Space

Say it with me: ‘corporate synergy’

Throughout the broadcast, Rivian’s electric pickup truck and SUV could be seen shuttling Bezos and his fellow astronauts around — an unsurprising decision considering Amazon now owns more than 10 percent of the EV startup after leading and participating in multiple funding rounds. The hosts of Blue Origin’s livestream made sure to let everyone watching know what they were seeing, too.

“And here the astronauts come. There you see Jeff Bezos in the foreground, Oliver Daemen stepping into the Rivian,” Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin’s director of “astronaut and orbital sales,” cheerily said during the broadcast as the group hopped in one of the startup’s SUVs to head to the rocket for their ride to space. Then we got a long, continuous aerial shot of the electric SUV driving toward the pad, split side-by-side during an interview with Mercury 13 legend Wally Funk.

After the crew safely landed an hour later, there they were again: a set of Rivian pickups and SUVs rumbling over the West Texas landscape to greet the recently returned astronauts. (The electric vehicles were tucked in among a few other pickup trucks and SUVs made by Ford — which also owns more than 10 percent of Rivian.)

The Rivians — likely on loan, due to the fact that they’re still wearing manufacturer plates — weren’t just there for the sake of the broadcast, either. At one point, Blue Origin used the slide-out camping kitchen on a pair of Rivian pickups to cook up sausages and carne asada for guests attending the launch — an optional feature that the startup has promoted a lot in the run-up to production.

Blue Origin is a private company, and much like Virgin Galactic — which launched founder Richard Branson to the edge of space less than two weeks ago — this first mission was as much about promotion as it was about science or exploration. But while Branson’s event had a music festival vibe, Blue Origin’s was more in line with Bezos’ notorious calculation. It was a chance for him to promote the things he plans to spend his time on now that he’s no longer Amazon CEO, like his space company and his climate fund, and to toss a bone to the electric vehicle company that Amazon has dumped a bunch of money into. Perhaps the only surprising thing is that the delivery van Rivian is building for Amazon wasn’t there, too.

It’s not like Rivian, which recently delayed the first deliveries of its pickup truck and SUV to later this year, really needs the attention. The startup has already raised more than $8 billion to date. Rivian has also already proven adept at coming up with its own effective cross-promotions. But Rivian is currently in the process of preparing an initial public offering, so it’s possible this display of corporate synergy plays right into the hands of the bankers.

The commercialization of the space industry has been happening for a while, but it’s really ramped up in recent years as companies like Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX matured. These companies have set out to dominate everything from the “boring” tasks like cargo runs and science missions to the riskier endeavors like strapping people inside a spaceship. They’ve realized the value of the eyeballs these missions attract, too. After all, before SpaceX launched the first humans to space from United States soil last year, those astronauts also took a promotional ride to the rocket — in a Tesla Model X.

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Why Bezos's space flight really matters | TheHill

The Hill 21 July, 2021 - 03:10pm

These nattering nabobs of negativism — to borrow former Vice President Spiro Agnew’s phrase — are myopic. Bezos’s space flight may have been brief, but it was weighted with an extraordinary reminder: American economic freedom has been, and continues to be, the single most important driver of human progress in history. It is the reason the United States has been the most prosperous nation, ever.

That reminder could not have come at a more critical time. The threats to our liberty are everywhere and accelerating fast: the expanding, cozy alliance between state and corporate interests we’re witnessing is the textbook definition of fascism, while Marxist principles are taking hold, from radical wealth redistribution to educational indoctrination to cultural warfare in the silencing of dissent and the erasure of history.

The left, in control of all levers of political, economic and cultural power, is moving quickly to, as former President Obama put it, “fundamentally transform the nation.” From the Soviet Union to Venezuela, North Korea and Cuba, history shows that when economic dynamism is replaced with the heavy hand of central control, individual freedom dies, innovation withers, and mass privation, poverty and misery follow.

That’s why Bezos’s brief trip to space is infused with a greater meaning: In this era when economic statism is rising, it was an apolitical triumph of American individualism, ambition, perseverance, technology, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Like most fabulously wealthy people, Bezos is a lightning rod for criticism; how he runs Amazon, how his company treats its employees, how he spends his vast personal fortune, how he expresses his political views, and how he lives his personal life are all fair-game targets for his critics.

But in no other country is his story possible. Born to teenage parents, Bezos worked as a short-order line cook at McDonald’s and graduated first in his class; in his valedictory speech, he shared his dream of the day human beings would live beyond Earth’s limits. 

At the dawn of the Internet Age, he came up with the idea of selling books online. He worked from his garage, packing each shipment himself and racing to the post office each day to mail them before it closed. The rest is e-commerce history. That success begat the next success.

Like the other so-called Billionaire Space Cowboys — Elon Musk and Richard Branson — Bezos is driven by personal dreams, raw ambition, a consuming desire to succeed, and a knack for successful entrepreneurship. The Wright Brothers gave us air travel, and over a century later, Bezos, Musk and Branson have the resources and vision to take us to the next level. In the 20th century, only the superpowers had the capability for manned space flight. Now, the modern-day Howard Hugheses do — and mankind will be better for it, assuming, of course, that the economic freedom that made it possible remains.

Individual liberty gave Bezos the space to chase his dreams. Economic freedom gave him the practical room to launch a trillion-dollar business from nothing and a completely different kind of enterprise that may have the power to change the world (and beyond). 

America has always been an aspirational society. American creativity, energy, innovation and prosperity lead the world, because of — not in spite of — the risks and rewards associated with capitalism. Bezos dreamed it, funded it, built it, and took it for a spin. Yes, he may very well build a thriving future business out of it. That, too, may benefit mankind as competition in space tourism drives prices down, public-private partnerships continue to grow, and more people are able to experience what only very few have previously.

It’s exciting to think of where technology could take us next. But those strides will not occur in an oppressive, creativity-stifling command and control economic environment defined by confiscatory taxes, radical wealth redistribution, and heavy government regulation. Nothing kills dreams and the economic growth that comes from them faster than the poisonous, crushing weight of Marxism.

Capitalism has its flaws and often needs responsible regulation to adjust to changing conditions.  But no other economic system has lifted more people out of poverty and into the middle class and beyond than the living, breathing, wild energy of free enterprise.

Bezos’s dream-into-reality space trip was an indispensable reminder of the way we were — and the way we could be once again: a frontier nation, adventurous from sea to space. He gave us a glimpse of a shining future, if only we resist the left’s rampage toward state domination and economic collectivism. 

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