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Billionaires in space are a public relations disaster
HOLD THIS THOUGHT
There are so many reasons that the sudden flurry of private space flights could be a good thing. It is genuinely an impressive showcase of extremely advanced technology, a demonstration of ostensible safety in a historically dangerous venture, and a testament to human innovation.
It’s frustrating, then, to watch as every billionaire involved refuses to handle it as such.
This is not an issue of media framing. The wealthiest men on Earth have consistently been asked why they’re going to space by numerous outlets and have consistently answered with some variation of “because I want to.”
It’s really a non-answer. Of course they want to go to space. I’m sure most people would spring at the chance to take a joy ride out-of-atmosphere if it cost them less than 0.1% of their net worth, but that doesn’t play well as the sole justification for such a monumental undertaking.
This is all the more frustrating because there are so many genuinely satisfying answers to that “why” question.
You could say anything to the tune of “putting myself in the ship proves how safe it is,” or “being aboard the first flight will draw the press attention that private space travel deserves.”
You could even turn up the egotism without coming across as completely self-serving.
“I am the face of this company, and it’s my job to represent it during such a monumental achievement,” is a far more genuine, respectable response than going to space just because you want to.
With everything they’re willing to do to reach space, it’s ironic that these big spenders won’t accept the cost of sharing the spotlight.
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