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What the Tech: Bezos and Branson are having a billionaires’ bash in space and you’re not invited

The super-rich’s new spaceflight scam isn’t a giant leap for mankind, it’s just another luxury for the lavish spenders at the top.

This week we learned that Jeff Bezos’ spaceflight firm, Blue Origin, was accepting bookings for a manned flight into the outer atmosphere. What was the price? Well, much like the voyage itself, even the sky isn’t the limit.

The first ticket has been made available via auction, so who knows how much money it will finally be flogged for, as this particular ticket carries bragging rights for letting you be one of the very first “space tourists”.

As tourists go however, I’m afraid this new breed will not be the kind to leave only footprints and take only memories; they’ll be the kind to leave serious footprints of the carbon kind, and frankly take the proverbial biscuit.

The purpose of these trips to the outer reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere is not exploration of the final frontier, but pure vanity; for bragging rights that transcend our meagre planet itself, only for egotists of galactic proportions.

In the coming years, as the billionaire class start booking their trips with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin or Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, the plutocrats will preen like never before with yet another status symbol to separate them (literally, by 100km vertically) from the great unwashed on this planet we call home. At dinner parties, when asked if they’ve been to space, our overlords will genuinely be able to mimic Homer Simpson’s legendary reply to his embittered work colleague: “Sure, you’ve never been?

The twentieth’s century’s space race may fairly be characterised as a propaganda exercise between capitalist and communist societies, but nonetheless it captured the hearts and minds of all humankind on either side of the iron curtain, as the very best and brightest took enormous risks and pushed the limits of science beyond our imaginations to achieve the crowning glories of modern civilisation, human spaceflight and the moon landings.

Blue Origin’s spacecraft may share its name with Alan Shepard, the first American in space, but the billionaires within its walls are there not for the incredible exploration the legendary astronaut dedicated his life to, but for vulgar exploitation.

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