Your personal wealth is larger than the GDP of many countries. Reaching a certain age, buying a Porsche convertible isn’t going to scratch that mid-life crisis itch. So, instead, you use some of your spare change to fulfil a childhood fantasy and fly into space.
That’s the mission of some of the world’s richest men. Why solve world hunger or any number of big issues when you can throw millions into a vanity project?
Neither Amazon founder Jeff Bezos nor Tesla tycoon Elon Musk are satisfied with being the richest man on the planet, they want to be the richest in space too. And our own blushing virgin Richard Branson also has his sights fixed on the stars. But how do their attempts compare?
Founded in 2000, Bezos’ spaceflight company Blue Origin will launch its first manned mission on July 20, with the founder and current richest man onboard. The New Shepard rocket is reusable and, named after legendary astronaut Alan Shepard, it will take off exactly 52 years after the Apollo 11 mission.
Bezos will be joined by his younger brother Mark as well as Wally Funk, one of the Mercury candidates passed over in the 1960s in favour of male colleagues. At 82, she will become the oldest ever astronaut. Another crew member won their flight in an auction, paying £20.26m for the 10-minute trip.
Cheekily pipping Bezos to the launchpad by nine days, Branson was due to hop aboard the SpaceShipTwo Unity on July 11. That day is between the time we go to print and when you’re likely to be reading this so we hope the mission was a success. The winged ‘space plane’ is carried by another craft to 40,000 feet before climbing under its own power then landing like a traditional plane.