Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos will fly to space at their own risk. Does that make it right for everyone?

Business

The Washington Post 23 June, 2021 - 11:10am 28 views

Who is Jeff Bezos?

Jeff Bezos , byname of Jeffrey Preston Bezos, (born January 12, 1964, Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.), American entrepreneur who played a key role in the growth of e-commerce as the founder and chief executive officer of Amazon.com, Inc., an online merchant of books and later of a wide variety of products. britannica.comJeff Bezos | Biography, Amazon, & Facts

(Reuters) - Launching one of the richest individuals on earth into orbit has proved a leap too far for insurers, who are not ready to price the risk of losing Jeff Bezos or his fellow space travelers.

Amazon CEO Bezos, a lifelong space enthusiast, has been vying with Elon Musk and Richard Branson to become the first billionaire to fly beyond the earth's atmosphere.

And while insurers are well known for offering cover for even the most outlandish of risks, at a price, potential accidents in space are not yet among them.

"Space tourism involves significant risk, but is not an issue life insurers specifically ask about as yet because it is so rare for anyone to travel into space," Insurance Information Institute (III) spokesperson Michael Barry said.

There is a nearly $500 million market to insure satellites, rockets and unmanned space flight, but no legal requirement for an operator such as Blue Origin, which Bezos founded, to insure passengers for injury or death or for space tourists to have life cover, brokers and insurers said.

"We're not aware of a case where anybody is insured against passenger liability," Neil Stevens, senior vice president, aviation and space at Marsh, the world's biggest insurance broker, told Reuters.

Assuming they lift-off as planned next month, Bezos and the other wannabe astronauts on Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft will not only spend several minutes 62 miles (100 km) above the earth in a truck-sized capsule, they also have to get back.

The only group that has regularly flown humans sub-orbitally since the 1960s is Branson's Virgin Galactic. All have been tests, with one failure in 2014 resulting in a death. Blue Origin has flown 15 unmanned sub-orbital flights with no failures, Seradata SpaceTrak data showed on June 10.

Bezos, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters on their insurance plans and flight records.

Being uninsured in space is nothing new.

NASA and the U.S., in general, do not buy liability cover, with government launches basically insured by taxpayers, Richard Parker of Assure Space, a unit of insurer AmTrust Financial that provides space insurance, said.

NASA astronauts are eligible for government life insurance programs, a NASA spokesperson said in an emailed response.

Charles Wetton, underwriting manager for space policies at insurer Global Aerospace, said astronauts on government-funded missions are carefully selected for their knowledge, skills and fitness and train for several years before blast off.

"They and their families understand the risks of the work they do, Wetton said.

But commercial space cadets may only get a few days of training for a sub-orbital flight or a few months for a ride to the International Space Station (ISS), Wetton said, adding: "These represent two very different risk profiles that insurers will take into account".

Blue Origin on its website says the spaceflight passenger will receive training the day before the launch, including mission and vehicle overviews, safety briefings, mission simulation and instruction on in-flight activities.

Virgin Galactic said participants will get three days of training and preparation before the launch.

Insurers expect iron clad waivers and contracts from commercial space travel firms, stating they will bear no burden if a passenger dies during a flight.

NASA has called for responses from the industry for its plans for a liability framework for privately-funded astronaut missions to the ISS. NASA's plans include requiring private astronauts to buy life insurance.

It is still early days, but cover for space tourists may be the next step, said Tim Rush, senior vice president, U.S. space, at insurance broker Gallagher, adding that the life insurance market currently provides individual cover of $2-5 million for private astronauts.

The only mandatory insurance in place for commercial space operators is third-party liability, mainly to cover property damage on earth or to a flying aircraft, said Akiko Hama, client executive, space and aerospace underwriting at Global Aerospace.

Blue Origin plans for its six-seater spacecraft to take off on July 20 and fly for four minutes beyond the boundary between the earth's atmosphere and outer space, where passengers will experience total weightlessness.

Safety record of orbital human space flights https://graphics.reuters.com/SPACE-EXPLORATION/INSURANCE/xklpyawokpg/chart.png

A key question for how the sector develops is whether risks related to tourism fall under space or aviation insurance lines, insurers and brokers told Reuters.

The U.N. Outer Space Treaty and the Liability Convention of 1972 governs all activities in space and very few countries have a legal framework for commercial human spaceflight, they said.

The first-ever aviation insurance policy was written by Lloyd's of London in 1911. A few years later the market insured Charles Lindbergh and his single-engine plane for $18,000 on its non-stop flight from the United States to Europe.

Space trips are different, said Marsh's Stevens, because the passengers are returning to the same place as they left, making it technically a domestic trip to which international aviation insurance cannot be applied, meaning there will also be no limitation to liability.

"The aviation, aircraft insurance market, and the like, are less keen to take on risks that involve spacecraft," he said, adding that whether space tourism trips fall under aviation or space insurance is a "million dollar question".

While air travel is governed by rules that establish airline liability in the case of death of passengers, Stevens said he was unaware of plans for similar rules for space tourism.

However, Wetton said Global Aerospace had started to receive enquiries from companies for sub-orbital missions.

"In 10 years' time, maybe the two lines, aviation and spaceflight will look very similar," said Assure Space's Parker.

"Some legislative somewhere will say, look, we're now having average Joes flying on these launch vehicles and need to protect them," Parker added.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Carolyn Cohn in London; Graphic by Manojna Maddipatla; Editing Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Alexander Smith)

Monoduo Films, the leading distributor of feature-length music documentaries, has acquired world sales rights to “Faith and Branko,” an intimate story that chronicles the relationship between two musicians over the course of seven years. The deal was announced on the eve of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, where the film screens in the Agora Doc Market. […]

Scientists find evidence parts of Venus's rocky surface move around like bits of ocean pack ice.

Electric propulsion developer Orbion Space Technology has raised $20 million in a Series B funding round, which it says it will use to scale production capacity of its Aurora propulsion system. The Michigan-based startup manufactures Hall effect plasma thrusters for use in small and cube satellites. Thrusters are used throughout the lifespan of a satellite (or any object in space that needs to maintain its orbit, like the space station) to adjust orbital altitude, avoid collisions, and de-orbit the craft once it has reached the end of its useful life.

Called the "cosmic dawn", this period happened between 250 and 350 million years after the Big Bang.

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photos via GettyAs an historic drought was intensifying in the Southwest late last month, members of a far-right chat group about Arizona state politics got to talking about similar water shortages in Oregon and northern California. There, farmers were struggling with dry fields and strict water limits. The crisis, members of the Arizona group chat falsely claimed, amounted to a deliberate plot by “Jews” to “starve Americans by cutting off the water supply.”

Aston Martin's oldest-known car is turning 100 years old in 2021, and the British firm is celebrating the occasion with a limited-edition Vantage Roadster built by its Q division. Located in Walton-on-Thames in England, distributor Aston Martin HWM worked with Q to bring some of the 1921 A3's design cues into the 21st century. The process was easier said than done considering the A3 and the Vantage share little more than four wheels, and creating a completely new car from the ground up was seemingly not an option.

Whether you rock out to classic rock, pop, or hip-hop, here's how these iconic artists get immortalized in Funko form

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, an alien race may have been watching and listening to humans on Earth, a new study has claimed. The findings state there are 29 planets which are “potentially habitable”, and therefore may harbour life, and that are close enough to our planet to have received human radio waves. The results do not prove aliens are spying on humans, or indeed that aliens exist at all, but researchers sought to find out if it was possible we were being watched by beings o

Of all the baffling things that have happened over the last six months, few can compete with the short squeeze of GameStop’s stock at the end of January. Over the course of two weeks, the stock price of the video game retailer grew by over 1,500%, putting the short sellers in a massive bind. The …

Sealed, a startup that helps homeowners overcome cost barriers to efficiency upgrades and electrification, just raised $16 million to fuel its expansion into more states.Why it matters: Many important climate tools rely on the far wider deployment of well-known methods and concepts — in this case upgrading homes to waste less energy.Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.Homes account for an estimated 20% of U.S. carbon emissions, and they can be lowered by ad

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil inventories in America’s largest storage hub could fall to historically low levels by the end of September as the demand rebound continues to outpace production.Stockpiles in Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate oil futures fell nearly 4 million barrels in the last two weeks, bringing inventories to the lowest since March of 2020 when the pandemic forced the country into lockdown. Analysts are estimating and traders are betting that supplies

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Hong Kong's markets watchdog on Thursday fined a Deutsche Bank unit HK$2.45 million ($315,522) for issuing incorrect statements to its prime brokerage clients for 12 years and delaying reporting its failure to the regulator. The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said in a statement that Deutsche Securities Asia Limited had issued the incorrect periodic statements between 2006 and October 2018, due to a design defect of its front office system. "We are pleased to put this matter, which was remediated three years ago, fully behind us," said a Hong Kong based Deutsche Bank spokeswoman.

After a class-action lawsuit was filed against Subway in January alleging that its tuna was fake, the New York Times launched an investigation.

Verdant Power’s grid-connected tidal power demonstration project in New York City has exceeded performance projections by every measure. The three turbines on a novel mounting system have exceeded ...

The Washington Football Team came away from the 2021 NFL draft with high marks for several of their picks. First-round linebacker Jamin

The notorious Clop ransomware operation appears to be back in business, just days after Ukrainian police arrested six alleged members of the gang. Last week, a law enforcement operation conducted by the National Police of Ukraine, along with officials from South Korea and the U.S., saw the arrest of multiple suspects believed to be linked to the Clop ransomware gang. It's believed to be the first time a national law enforcement group carried out mass arrests involving a ransomware group.

The young Packers receiver created some positive momentum during minicamp.

Read full article at The Washington Post

Is Space Tourism the Future of the Travel Industry? Jeff Bezos Thinks So

Greek Reporter 24 June, 2021 - 11:10am

The new London-based travel agency RocketBreaks aims to be the go-to resource for those seeking the luxury and adventure of commercial space tourism.

The development of cutting-edge spaceship technology from companies like Virgin Galactic, combined with the rabid interest of billionaires like Jeff Bezos, have opened the gates to the dawn of commercial space travel, and with it, the space travel tourist industry.

RocketBreaks offers a package that may remind you of the familiar all-inclusives provided for tourists visiting remote foreign countries: they arrange your flights, living quarters, and dining.

Their service is indeed modeled after the familiar terrestrial tourist experience, but with adaptations for outer space: as well as all of the aforementioned amenities, they also train guests in how to handle the climate of space, as well as offering day trips into space and thrilling zero-gravity experiences.

The company Orion Span plans to open the Aurora Station hotel, a destination where RocketBreaks will also book prospective space tourists to stay. The hotel will orbit Earth for periods of 12 days, carrying four travelers and two crew members.

If you are serious about taking the trip of a lifetime in the most foreign of landscapes, you will have to prove you are physically up to the task.

RocketBreaks requires you train beforehand, at one of their partner’s training centers, in order to be ready to face the challenges of being in space. Once you are physically prepared for the trip, you can add your name to the waitlist of those interested in commercial space travel.

But don’t be surprised if the list is star-studded.

If the prospect of visiting outer space for your next adventure sounds enticing to you, you’re not alone. Some of the world’s leading businessmen and biggest names in technology are vying for the chance to either play a role in the creation of the technology for outer space tourism, or become space tourists themselves.

In the case of the Amazon CEO and world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos, those two desires will become a reality next month as he ventures into space with brother Mark Bezos in the “New Shepard” rocket he developed with his space exploration firm “Blue Origin.”

The New Shepard program is named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to go into space.

“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend,” Bezos wrote on Instagram.

He added: “To see the earth from space — it changes you.”

The Bezos brothers, one auction winner who paid $28 million for the privilege, and a fourth person will become the first crew aboard the reusable rocket for its 11-minute voyage into space.

Bezos, along with Richard Branson with his Virgin Galactic, wants to expand space tourism, a vision that stands in stark contrast to Elon Musk. The SpaceX CEO has long touted his goal to make humanity into a multi-planetary species. This would start with a city on Mars by the year 2050.

The Bezos brothers, one auction winner who paid $28 million for the privilege, and a fourth person will become the first crew aboard the reusable rocket for its 11-minute voyage into space.

Bezos, along with Richard Branson with his Virgin Galactic, wants to expand space tourism, a vision that stands in stark contrast to Elon Musk. The SpaceX CEO has long touted his goal to make humanity into a multi-planetary species. This would start with a city on Mars by the year 2050.

His astonishing wealth has created a lot of admirers — but there also many who dislike him. As soon as he announced his intention to fly to space, at least two petitions were launched to try and prevent the billionaire’s re-entry to Earth that have both garnered thousands of followers.

More than 37,000 people have signed one Change.org petition titled: “Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth.”

“Billionaire’s (sic) should not exist…on earth, or in space, but should they decide the latter they should stay there,” the petition’s description said.

Another petition, called “Petition To Not Allow Jeff Bezos Re-Entry To Earth,” has accumulated more than 19,000 signatures and is quickly gaining traction.

Jose Ortiz, who set up the petition, said in the description that Bezos is “an evil overlord hellbent on global domination.”

“The fate of humanity is in your hands,” Ortiz added.

Thousands of people want to send Jeff Bezos into space forever | TheHill

The Hill 24 June, 2021 - 11:10am

People do not want this Amazon product to have a return policy.

A Petition To Keep Jeff Bezos From Returning To Earth Has Reached 100000 Signatures

IFLScience 24 June, 2021 - 11:10am

Next month, Elon Musk will technically become the richest person on Earth when his space rival and actual richest person on Earth, Jeff Bezos, is blasted into space upon Blue Origin's first-ever human flight.

If a petition has its way, there Jeff Bezos shall remain, floating in space with his brother and making awkward chat with a mysterious ticket-holder, banished from the Earth forevermore.

The petition on Change.org simply states that "billionaires should not exist...on earth, or in space, but should they decide the latter they should stay there". A rival petition, with the exact same goals, has amassed just 25,000 signatures. 

"Jeff Bezos is actually Lex Luthor, disguised as the supposed owner of a super successful online retail store. However, he's actually an evil overlord hellbent on global domination," the presumably tongue-in-cheek petition reads. "We've known this for years."

It goes on to allege that Bezos has worked with the Knights Templar and the Free Masons to control the world.

"He's also in bed with the flat earth deniers; it's the only way they'll allow him to leave the atmosphere. Meanwhile, our government stands by and lets it happen. This may be our last chance before they enable the 5G microchips and perform a mass takeover."

Fortunately for Bezos, neither petition has formulated an action plan for keeping him from a safe return to the Earth's atmosphere. Should they come up with an idea, they will be operating on a tight timescale. 

The 10-minute flight will see the crew accelerate to over 3 Gs, before the capsule detaches. At this point, they can unbuckle and feel the effects of weightlessness, before rebuckling for reentry into the Earth's atmosphere three minutes later. Passengers will land in the West Texas desert with assistance from a parachute deployed by the capsule, where they will be met by a landing crew.

With just a three minute window to keep him in space, their best hope might be that he remembers the petition and it makes him sad enough to alter the flight's course himself, heading for a less hostile planet where the petition has yet to be invented, and the maximum number of possible signatories for future similar petitions is two.

Sign up today to get weekly science coverage direct to your inbox

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By continuing to use our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

The Amount Jeff Bezos' Net Worth Increased In 2020 Would Be The 14th Largest Fortune In The World Right Now

Celebrity Net Worth 24 June, 2021 - 11:10am

I think we can all agree that 2020 was a weird and intense year. It was for billionaires too, just in a whole other way. The richest people got much, much, much richer. Jeff Bezos, the richest person on the planet, stepped down as CEO of Amazon this year.

Jeff entered 2020 as the richest person in the world and he ended 2020 with a net worth increase that, if it stood alone, would be good enough to make him the 14th-richest person in the world today behind Mukesh Ambani and Amancio Ortega Ganoa.

Bezos' net worth is tied to the value of Amazon's stock, which as of this writing, is trading at $3,453. That's just about double Amazon's price per share at the end of 2019.

In 2020, Jeff Bezos' net worth increased by…

That's a truly stunning amount for a single-year increase.

Just a few years ago, that figure alone would have been enough to make him the richest person in the world.

As of this writing, with Amazon trading at $3,453, Jeff's current net worth is…

He's the richest person in the world. He  tops the second-richest person in the world, Bernard Arnault, by around $25 billion.

Over the years, Bezos has branched out from Amazon. He's the owner of the Washington Post and Whole Foods. He's also committed $10 billion to counter the effects of climate change through the Bezos Earth Fund.

Bezos is also a member of the elite club of billionaires who own space exploration companies. Bezos' Blue Origin is funded with $1 billion a year that he raises by selling off Amazon stock. Jeff recently announced that he and his brother (plus one lucky third passenger) will be traveling to space in the near future on Blue Origin's inaugural ride.

© 2021 Celebrity Net Worth / All Rights Reserved

Jeff Bezos should not be allowed to return to Earth says petition with 100,000 signatures

Daily Express 24 June, 2021 - 11:10am

On July 20, Jeff Bezos will be blasted into space on one of his Blue Origin rockets. However, an online petition has called for Mr Bezos to be denied re-entry into Earth. The petition has now gained more than 115,000 signatures from netizens who have been using the Change.org platform to criticise how the Amazon founder has used his wealth.

However, he has been heavily criticised for how he has used his fortunes.

Political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson has claimed that Mr Bezos has given away just one percent of his wealth.

This is considerably lower than other billionaires like Bill Gates who has given tens of billions away as part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Even ex-president Donald Trump has given away three percent of his fortune.

MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Mr Bezos who announced their divorce this year, has vowed to give away virtually all of the $38bn she received in a divorce settlement, with the latest being a $2.7bn donation to 286 charities.

Mr Bezos has also come under fire for the way his Amazon staff had been treated during his tenure.

The petition calling for Mr Bezos to be denied a return to Earth said: "Billionaires should not exist...on Earth, or in space, but should they decide the latter, they should stay there."

It said, presumably semi-jokingly: "Jeff Bezos is actually Lex Luthor, disguised as the supposed owner of a super successful online retail store.

"However, he's actually an evil overlord hellbent on global domination. We've known this for years."

It went on to add: "He's also in bed with the flat earth deniers; it's the only way they'll allow him to leave the atmosphere.

"Meanwhile our Government stands by and lets it happen.

"This may be our last chance before they enable the 5G microchips and perform a mass takeover."

On July 20, Mr Bezos, along with his brother, Mark, and other paying passengers, will fly in Blue Origin's New Shepard 62 miles (100 kilometres) above Earth's surface.

They will then sit in orbit for 10 minutes where they will experience weightlessness.

As the rocket approaches the ground, boosters will be launched so as to slow it down before it lands on a pad two miles from the launch site.

The six onboard the rocket will also be able to see the curvature of the Earth before returning to Earth.

Jeff Bezos Plans To Fly Into Space Soon. No One Willing To Insure Him

NDTV 24 June, 2021 - 11:10am

Jeff Bezos unveils his company Blue Origin's lunar lander rocket (File)

Launching one of the richest individuals on earth into orbit has proved a leap too far for insurers, who are not ready to price the risk of losing Jeff Bezos or his fellow space travelers.

Amazon CEO Bezos, a lifelong space enthusiast, has been vying with Elon Musk and Richard Branson to become the first billionaire to fly beyond the earth's atmosphere.

And while insurers are well known for offering cover for even the most outlandish of risks, at a price, potential accidents in space are not yet among them.

"Space tourism involves significant risk, but is not an issue life insurers specifically ask about as yet because it is so rare for anyone to travel into space," Insurance Information Institute (III) spokesperson Michael Barry said.

There is a nearly $500 million market to insure satellites, rockets and unmanned space flight, but no legal requirement for an operator such as Blue Origin, which Bezos founded, to insure passengers for injury or death or for space tourists to have life cover, brokers and insurers said.

"We're not aware of a case where anybody is insured against passenger liability," Neil Stevens, senior vice president, aviation and space at Marsh, the world's biggest insurance broker, told Reuters.

Assuming they lift-off as planned next month, Bezos and the other wannabe astronauts on Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft will not only spend several minutes 62 miles (100 km) above the earth in a truck-sized capsule, they also have to get back.

The only group that has regularly flown humans sub-orbitally since the 1960s is Branson's Virgin Galactic. All have been tests, with one failure in 2014 resulting in a death. Blue Origin has flown 15 unmanned sub-orbital flights with no failures, Seradata SpaceTrak data showed on June 10.

Bezos, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters on their insurance plans and flight records.

Being uninsured in space is nothing new.

NASA and the U.S., in general, do not buy liability cover, with government launches basically insured by taxpayers, Richard Parker of Assure Space, a unit of insurer AmTrust Financial that provides space insurance, said.

NASA astronauts are eligible for government life insurance programs, a NASA spokesperson said in an emailed response.

Charles Wetton, underwriting manager for space policies at insurer Global Aerospace, said astronauts on government-funded missions are carefully selected for their knowledge, skills and fitness and train for several years before blast off.

"They and their families understand the risks of the work they do, Wetton said.

But commercial space cadets may only get a few days of training for a sub-orbital flight or a few months for a ride to the International Space Station (ISS), Wetton said, adding: "These represent two very different risk profiles that insurers will take into account".

Blue Origin on its website says the spaceflight passenger will receive training the day before the launch, including mission and vehicle overviews, safety briefings, mission simulation and instruction on in-flight activities.

Virgin Galactic said participants will get three days of training and preparation before the launch.

Insurers expect iron clad waivers and contracts from commercial space travel firms, stating they will bear no burden if a passenger dies during a flight.

NASA has called for responses from the industry for its plans for a liability framework for privately-funded astronaut missions to the ISS. NASA's plans include requiring private astronauts to buy life insurance.

It is still early days, but cover for space tourists may be the next step, said Tim Rush, senior vice president, U.S. space, at insurance broker Gallagher, adding that the life insurance market currently provides individual cover of $2-5 million for private astronauts.

The only mandatory insurance in place for commercial space operators is third-party liability, mainly to cover property damage on earth or to a flying aircraft, said Akiko Hama, client executive, space and aerospace underwriting at Global Aerospace.

Blue Origin plans for its six-seater spacecraft to take off on July 20 and fly for four minutes beyond the boundary between the earth's atmosphere and outer space, where passengers will experience total weightlessness.

Safety record of orbital human space flights https://graphics.reuters.com/SPACE-EXPLORATION/INSURANCE/xklpyawokpg/chart.png

A key question for how the sector develops is whether risks related to tourism fall under space or aviation insurance lines, insurers and brokers told Reuters.

The U.N. Outer Space Treaty and the Liability Convention of 1972 governs all activities in space and very few countries have a legal framework for commercial human spaceflight, they said.

The first-ever aviation insurance policy was written by Lloyd's of London in 1911. A few years later the market insured Charles Lindbergh and his single-engine plane for $18,000 on its non-stop flight from the United States to Europe.

Space trips are different, said Marsh's Stevens, because the passengers are returning to the same place as they left, making it technically a domestic trip to which international aviation insurance cannot be applied, meaning there will also be no limitation to liability.

"The aviation, aircraft insurance market, and the like, are less keen to take on risks that involve spacecraft," he said, adding that whether space tourism trips fall under aviation or space insurance is a "million dollar question".

While air travel is governed by rules that establish airline liability in the case of death of passengers, Stevens said he was unaware of plans for similar rules for space tourism.

However, Wetton said Global Aerospace had started to receive enquiries from companies for sub-orbital missions.

"In 10 years' time, maybe the two lines, aviation and spaceflight will look very similar," said Assure Space's Parker.

"Some legislative somewhere will say, look, we're now having average Joes flying on these launch vehicles and need to protect them," Parker added.

Track Latest News Live on NDTV.com and get news updates from India and around the world.

Track Latest News Live on NDTV.com and get news updates from India and around the world. Follow our special coverage of Assembly Elections 2021 and get fastest results on ndtv.com/elections.

Launching Jeff Bezos into space is a leap too far for insurers

NBC News 24 June, 2021 - 10:03am

BREAKING: Giuliani suspended from practicing law in N.Y. for 'misleading statements' on 2020 election

Amazon CEO Bezos, a lifelong space enthusiast, has been vying with Elon Musk and Richard Branson to become the first billionaire to fly beyond the earth's atmosphere.

And while insurers are well known for offering cover for even the most outlandish of risks, at a price, potential accidents in space are not yet among them.

"Space tourism involves significant risk, but is not an issue life insurers specifically ask about as yet because it is so rare for anyone to travel into space," Insurance Information Institute (III) spokesperson Michael Barry said.

There is a nearly $500 million market to insure satellites, rockets and unmanned space flight, but no legal requirement for an operator such as Blue Origin, which Bezos founded, to insure passengers for injury or death or for space tourists to have life cover, brokers and insurers said.

"We're not aware of a case where anybody is insured against passenger liability," Neil Stevens, senior vice president, aviation and space at Marsh, the world's biggest insurance broker, told Reuters.

Assuming they lift-off as planned next month, Bezos and the other wannabe astronauts on Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft will not only spend several minutes 62 miles above the earth in a truck-sized capsule, they also have to get back.

The only group that has regularly flown humans sub-orbitally since the 1960s is Branson's Virgin Galactic. All have been tests, with one failure in 2014 resulting in a death. Blue Origin has flown 15 unmanned sub-orbital flights with no failures, Seradata SpaceTrak data showed on June 10.

Bezos, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters on their insurance plans and flight records.

Being uninsured in space is nothing new: NASA and the U.S., in general, do not buy liability cover, with government launches basically insured by taxpayers.

Being uninsured in space is nothing new. NASA and the U.S., in general, do not buy liability cover, with government launches basically insured by taxpayers, Richard Parker of Assure Space, a unit of insurer AmTrust Financial that provides space insurance, said.

NASA astronauts are eligible for government life insurance programs, a NASA spokesperson said in an emailed response.

Charles Wetton, underwriting manager for space policies at insurer Global Aerospace, said astronauts on government-funded missions are carefully selected for their knowledge, skills and fitness and train for several years before blast off.

"They and their families understand the risks of the work they do," Wetton said.

But commercial space cadets may only get a few days of training for a sub-orbital flight or a few months for a ride to the International Space Station, Wetton said, adding: "These represent two very different risk profiles that insurers will take into account."

Blue Origin on its website says the spaceflight passenger will receive training the day before the launch, including mission and vehicle overviews, safety briefings, mission simulation and instruction on in-flight activities.

Virgin Galactic said participants will get three days of training and preparation before the launch.

Insurers expect iron clad waivers and contracts from commercial space travel firms, stating they will bear no burden if a passenger dies during a flight.

NASA has called for responses from the industry for its plans for a liability framework for privately funded astronaut missions to the ISS. NASA's plans include requiring private astronauts to buy life insurance.

It is still early days, but cover for space tourists may be the next step, said Tim Rush, senior vice president, U.S. space, at insurance broker Gallagher, adding that the life insurance market currently provides individual cover of $2-5 million for private astronauts.

The only mandatory insurance in place for commercial space operators is third-party liability, mainly to cover property damage on earth or to a flying aircraft, said Akiko Hama, client executive, space and aerospace underwriting at Global Aerospace.

Blue Origin plans for its six-seater spacecraft to take off on July 20 and fly for four minutes beyond the boundary between the earth's atmosphere and outer space, where passengers will experience total weightlessness.

A key question for how the sector develops is whether risks related to tourism fall under space or aviation insurance lines, insurers and brokers told Reuters.

The U.N. Outer Space Treaty and the Liability Convention of 1972 governs all activities in space and very few countries have a legal framework for commercial human spaceflight, they said.

The first-ever aviation insurance policy was written by Lloyd's of London in 1911. A few years later the market insured Charles Lindbergh and his single-engine plane for $18,000 on its nonstop flight from the United States to Europe.

Space trips are different, said Marsh's Stevens, because the passengers are returning to the same place as they left, making it technically a domestic trip to which international aviation insurance cannot be applied, meaning there will also be no limitation to liability.

"The aviation, aircraft insurance market, and the like, are less keen to take on risks that involve spacecraft," he said, adding that whether space tourism trips fall under aviation or space insurance is a "million-dollar question."

While air travel is governed by rules that establish airline liability in the case of death of passengers, Stevens said he was unaware of plans for similar rules for space tourism.

However, Wetton said Global Aerospace had started to receive enquiries from companies for sub-orbital missions.

"In 10 years' time, maybe the two lines, aviation and spaceflight will look very similar," said Assure Space's Parker.

"Some legislative somewhere will say, look, we're now having average Joes flying on these launch vehicles and need to protect them," Parker added.

Bezos's 2021 Space Odyssey a risk too far for insurers

Deccan Herald 24 June, 2021 - 06:14am

Launching one of the richest individuals on earth into orbit has proved a leap too far for insurers, who are not ready to price the risk of losing Jeff Bezos or his fellow space travelers.

Amazon CEO Bezos, a lifelong space enthusiast, has been vying with Elon Musk and Richard Branson to become the first billionaire to fly beyond the earth's atmosphere.

And while insurers are well known for offering cover for even the most outlandish of risks, at a price, potential accidents in space are not yet among them.

"Space tourism involves significant risk, but is not an issue life insurers specifically ask about as yet because it is so rare for anyone to travel into space," Insurance Information Institute (III) spokesperson Michael Barry said.

There is a nearly $500 million market to insure satellites, rockets and unmanned space flight, but no legal requirement for an operator such as Blue Origin, which Bezos founded, to insure passengers for injury or death or for space tourists to have life cover, brokers and insurers said.

"We're not aware of a case where anybody is insured against passenger liability," Neil Stevens, senior vice president, aviation and space at Marsh, the world's biggest insurance broker, told Reuters.

Assuming they lift-off as planned next month, Bezos and the other wannabe astronauts on Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft will not only spend several minutes 62 miles (100 km) above the earth in a truck-sized capsule, they also have to get back.

The only group that has regularly flown humans sub-orbitally since the 1960s is Branson's Virgin Galactic. All have been tests, with one failure in 2014 resulting in a death. Blue Origin has flown 15 unmanned sub-orbital flights with no failures, Seradata SpaceTrak data showed on June 10.

Bezos, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters on their insurance plans and flight records.

Being uninsured in space is nothing new.

NASA and the US, in general, do not buy liability cover, with government launches basically insured by taxpayers, Richard Parker of Assure Space, a unit of insurer AmTrust Financial that provides space insurance, said.

NASA astronauts are eligible for government life insurance programs, a NASA spokesperson said in an emailed response.

Charles Wetton, underwriting manager for space policies at insurer Global Aerospace, said astronauts on government-funded missions are carefully selected for their knowledge, skills and fitness and train for several years before blast off.

"They and their families understand the risks of the work they do, Wetton said.

But commercial space cadets may only get a few days of training for a sub-orbital flight or a few months for a ride to the International Space Station (ISS), Wetton said, adding: "These represent two very different risk profiles that insurers will take into account".

Blue Origin on its website says the spaceflight passenger will receive training the day before the launch, including mission and vehicle overviews, safety briefings, mission simulation and instruction on in-flight activities.

Virgin Galactic said participants will get three days of training and preparation before the launch.

Insurers expect iron clad waivers and contracts from commercial space travel firms, stating they will bear no burden if a passenger dies during a flight.

NASA has called for responses from the industry for its plans for a liability framework for privately-funded astronaut missions to the ISS. NASA's plans include requiring private astronauts to buy life insurance.

It is still early days, but cover for space tourists may be the next step, said Tim Rush, senior vice president, US space, at insurance broker Gallagher, adding that the life insurance market currently provides individual cover of $2-5 million for private astronauts.

The only mandatory insurance in place for commercial space operators is third-party liability, mainly to cover property damage on earth or to a flying aircraft, said Akiko Hama, client executive, space and aerospace underwriting at Global Aerospace.

Blue Origin plans for its six-seater spacecraft to take off on July 20 and fly for four minutes beyond the boundary between the earth's atmosphere and outer space, where passengers will experience total weightlessness.

A key question for how the sector develops is whether risks related to tourism fall under space or aviation insurance lines, insurers and brokers told Reuters.

The UN Outer Space Treaty and the Liability Convention of 1972 governs all activities in space and very few countries have a legal framework for commercial human spaceflight, they said.

The first-ever aviation insurance policy was written by Lloyd's of London in 1911. A few years later the market insured Charles Lindbergh and his single-engine plane for $18,000 on its non-stop flight from the United States to Europe.

Space trips are different, said Marsh's Stevens, because the passengers are returning to the same place as they left, making it technically a domestic trip to which international aviation insurance cannot be applied, meaning there will also be no limitation to liability.

"The aviation, aircraft insurance market, and the like, are less keen to take on risks that involve spacecraft," he said, adding that whether space tourism trips fall under aviation or space insurance is a "million dollar question".

While air travel is governed by rules that establish airline liability in the case of death of passengers, Stevens said he was unaware of plans for similar rules for space tourism.

However, Wetton said Global Aerospace had started to receive enquiries from companies for sub-orbital missions.

"In 10 years' time, maybe the two lines, aviation and spaceflight will look very similar," said Assure Space's Parker.

"Some legislative somewhere will say, look, we're now having average Joes flying on these launch vehicles and need to protect them," Parker added.

Luxury in clouds: Shanghai opens world's highest hotel

Gas infrastructure across Europe leaking methane

In Pics: 5 Key moments from Andy Murray's career

See you in 17 years: US's cicada plague winds down

Churchill painting sells for $1.85 mn in NY auction

Luxury in clouds: Shanghai opens world's highest hotel

Gas infrastructure across Europe leaking methane

In Pics: 5 Key moments from Andy Murray's career

See you in 17 years: US's cicada plague winds down

Churchill painting sells for $1.85 mn in NY auction

National

Karnataka

Bengaluru

Sports

Business

Multimedia

Opinion

Entertainment

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve user experience. This includes personalising content and advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy.

Richard Branson

Business Stories