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A Billionaire’s Playground: SpaceX Edition

    You always hear about the vastness of space, how it feels like it can swallow you whole. I know that I and others seek solace in a minuscule world with unknowns and tangible concepts such as god and water and school and degrees.  I find it comical when I learn about the ventures of greed. I grasp the vastness of money in tandem with the exponential growth of ego that comes with monetary gain, but there was one concept that I felt a certain affinity to. A concept that felt so absurd and almost redundant: the affinity towards space by the preposterously rich. 

I found this quite prominent in the top 1%, SpaceX (developed by engineer Elon Musk) aims to commercialize rocket travel into the vast unknown. So while the rest of us are working to make ends meet (and striving to create our own humbled means on our quaint planet earth), your billionaire counterpart is expanding into the realm of trepid physics and becoming a martian themselves (as if they haven’t already alienated themselves from their meek, 9-5 working-class). 

So what is SpaceX, and how does it truly expand the massive circular conglomeration of ignorance the top 1% lives in? It is purely on the basis of an ego expansion under the alluring premise of dinner with a view of an asteroid shower or is space exploration as promising as the rich make it out to be? I took a deeper dive into SpaceX and how it works to alienate the individuals we place above. 

SpaceX started as a venture by Musk in 2002. He strived to be the first commercially accessible and privately owned space exploration company. In May of 2020, Musk sent the first two astronauts into space. Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were sent up into the cosmos with a safe return on August 2020. Musk was the first commercial spaceship to send astronauts to space with another successful flight in a “space taxi cab” in November of 2020. Ironically enough, as COVID raged down below, the aircraft was named “resilience” in commemoration of the individuals fighting their own COVID battles below

The vanity of it all is touching as the Washington Post narrates on the true intention of Musk’s recent interest in space. He hopes, unlike other billionaires, that space exploration will help set up humanity on mars before we face our inevitable extinction. I found it well versed by a quote by Michael Hiltzik, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a self-proclaimed space fanatic himself. “The competition to be the first billionaire in space should mark a milestone in the towering vanity of the wealthy,” he wrote. “Let’s promptly dispense with the notion that any of these flights will add anything to our scientific knowledge unless it’s the establishment of a new metric for how long it takes for money to burn a hole in your pocket when you have more than you could possibly need.” 

This places the exorbitant greed that accompanies wealth under scrutiny, what’s the real point to space exploration? USA TODAY estimated that a round trip (quite literally a round trip) around the Earth as a SpaceX astronaut comes with the light price tag of $55 million USD. So are we all pawns and spectators in the much more grandiose playground the billionaires reside in? Trying to make ends meet and the worrisome taunt of managing to put food on the table versus attempting to reside on another planet just isn’t what the common man is worried about. This also comes with another question to raise, how come billionaires fail to tackle terrestrial problems first? The combined wealth of each billionaire is enough money to end poverty seven times over according to Oxfam. This takes into account the 100 million dollar investment Musk originally implemented into SpaceX. 

The gambit of the rich continues to send shockwaves through the working class. The irony behind these ventures proves to be infantile and if anything, a ploy for the rich people to say that they are doing it for the not-so-rich. So this brings back to the question regarding SpaceX. Is this another battle for the galaxies in a playroom with rockets as toys or is it truly for the advancement of humankind? Time will tell but until then, the latter feels like overkill.

News writer for her campus!!! She/her and am currently at the university of florida
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