The billionaire Space Race bros, Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, are out of control

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Susannah Butter (Daniel Hambury)
Susannah Butter (Daniel Hambury)

Which William do you stand with? As actor William Shatner blasted off into space on Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin rocket, Prince William has asked why people are spending so much time and money trying to get to other planets when ours is on the brink of ecological devastation.

I appreciate that there is a sense of wonder about space but even ardent Interstellar acolytes have to admit that the last few years have been disastrous for the public image of intergalactic exploration. It is no longer about the pursuit of knowledge, but rather an unedifying ego competition. Thanks to the space bro billionaires Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, it is now associated with one-upmanship; a contest of my rocket is bigger than yours. Note: the space race is male-dominated.

Prince William’s objections were noble. He said: “We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live.” Scientists estimate that the carbon emissions of a space flight are about 60 times that of a plane’s — with that in mind, is it really necessary to go up there just to show you can? I wonder what Insulate Britain has to say about all this.

On a more trivial note, it isn’t like we are missing out by not going up into new galaxies. After two years of not leaving London because of Covid, I’d rather go on holiday to France than somewhere where you have to eat dehydrated food. I’m fond of gravity and I get carsick in cabs, so I dread to think how I would feel breaking through the sound barrier.

But the one per cent is persisting with its folly, while global warming continues apace. If only staying here and coming up with green energy solutions could appeal to their egos as much as building rockets.

What do you think of the billionaire space race? Let us know in the comments below.

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