CityLife Arts

Drawing inspiring from watching pioneering space tourists Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos go to space and back successfully

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

I know that a good number of us were focusing our minds on what was happening here at home. We were rightly so consumed  by the unprecedented  violence and destruction of property and life  that befall South Africa, we forgot  two historic developments in faraway places, specifically in space in the past two weeks. These developments maybe heralding a new possibility for humanity.

You may have heard about the space programmes of two of the world’s billionaires, and the two are  my favourite entrepreneurs whose entrepreneurship  is worth emulating, especially because their efforts somehow changed the world along the way as they ;laughed all the way to the bank too.

Jeff Bezos (right with crew members) PICTURE COURTESY of Getty Images.

Englishman Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin group of companies and his American fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, the e-commerce giant that has not only made billions for him, currently the richest man on earth, have done what will definitely become a lucrative tourism venture in the near future. This ambitious space venture will however in the near future be  for those loaded enough and who do not have the small troubles of cash  affecting us small guys on this earth. People will soon be able to travel to space as tourists.

But before going further, let me explain why these two’s business activities have found favour with the arts community, me included. Sir Branson among other successful business ventures, started Virgin Records some years ago, that changed the lives of many artists and of course made the lives of music lovers easier.

Bezos on the other hand, made the lives of book lovers and authors much easier by founding Amazon, the e-commerce technology company that sold and delivers millions of  books everywhere in the world, making him the richest man on earth currently.

Of course today these two men’s companies are also involved in other businesses unrelated to the two I have mentioned above.

Sir Richard Branson( left )

Sir Branson through his space company Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo shot  to the edge of space as a test before allowing customers aboard next year.

Bezos flew  on Blue Origin’s spacecraft with three others on July 23, 2021using his  and just like Sir Branson’ the Blue Origin rocket reached the edge of space., and like Branson, landed safely back on earth with his fellow travelers.

As the two space tourists led this mission successfully to space with those lucky to have been chosen to accompany them, there was a bout of celebration in the hot Mexico desert as their respective rocket planes landed safely, as family, friends and colleagues welcome them back to earth from the other world. Watching the spectacle made one feel like one was part of that welcoming crowd. I have always had this fascination for space ever since I was born.

Now forget about the small bickering by these two rich men prior to the events about who was going to make history first as a space tourist, and focus on the possibilities of ordinary, but wealthy people going to space. Maybe that will somehow make the world a better place and humble us about our arrogance as we start to understand the bigger picture that we call the world. The world is bigger than us on earth as there are other worlds out  there. This however  can only happen when those who go up there come back and tell us their stories of their experience in the other world through writing books about their experiences. I am quite sure such books would become best sellers. They may consider me a customer.

And If you look at it, this is the age of spacetourism for real, with Sir Branson’s rocket taking its first customers to space next year, and Bezos’s booking by space customers stands at $100 million worth of ticket sales.

No wonder Bezos when he looked down to earth in that rocket plane, seeing how tiny and vulnerable the earth appeared, he wondered what the bickering by politicians, nations and other powerful individuals on earth, is all about, because from up there, we are so vulnerable and tiny in the bigger  scheme of things, apparently.

For some reason as I believer in God, as opposed to many who rightly  argue that such space exploration will only be useless to the majority of us, poor people, as the opportunity will only be accessible to the rich and powerful.  Unfortunately they further argue, again rightly so, that  unlike Bezos and Branson, those who will in future  be able to go to space as tourists, may even include those who could have gotten their money corruptly by stealing from the public purse. I already see tenderpreneurs up there sealing deals in space, away from the prying eye of the public . If that happened, that would be horrible for sure. 

However, I tend to believe that such exploration at the end will be accessible to average people, just like flying is today. Maybe I am a dreamer, but God-willing, that is a possibility, maybe not for our generation, but for many generations after us.

I also hope that space explorations will in future  be used for scientific enquiries, to for example, find out the possibility of designing solutions in space for some of the elusive remedies we cannot find on earth, for example medical remedies. I am not a scientist, but just a mere writer, but who knows space may be holding the key to secrets to healing for some of the problematic ailments affecting us on earth. Well, that is the optimist in me, motivated by watching Sir Branson and Bezos do what has not been done before by human beings, going to space as tourists and coming back safely.

But also at a personal level, the adventures of the two  entrepreneurs affirmed me because I am such a coward when it comes to adventures in general, let alone go into space. The bravest adventure I have ever done in my life when it comes to space issues, is being on a hot air balloon, a few years ago in Magalies. Even then it took me some energy to summon whatever courage is innate in me to accept the invitation to do so a few years ago by the legendary Bill Harrop, of the Bill Harrop’s Original Hot Air Ballon. Harrop tragically  passed on July 6, 2021, due to Covid-19 complications. He died one week after the demise of his wife. May his and wife’s souls rest in peace. I only did it the second time I was invited to do so, having previously turned down the invitation. So bear in mind we are talking about an adventure coward here.

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