Part 143- Billionaire Space Race

Man has always been curious. Starting from fire and to the world beyond our own, we have always wanted to explore further. But who is the start of these? Ambitious, daring people who want to step beyond the boundary lines. Those who didn’t want to sit around waiting for something to happen, and wanted to do something on their own. The same thing happens here, except now with billionaires and space.

Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson

What is the point of the space race?

We all presume that these billionaires are going to space to make some money. They have their eyes on the moon or even on space itself so they can start Space Tourism. But, what does it do? Sure, they’ll earn more money and become richer, but other than that what does it mean? It means that they’ll have a title. A mark. Or, a legacy. They want to be written in History Books, so, even years after they die, their names live on. But, they want their names to be known as the first private-funded non-astronaut to go to space.

If you’ve seen the Virgin Galactic Unity 22 Spaceflight, you saw that Richard Branson was riding a bike before giving the astronauts a hug. They all look happy and it seems like a welcome, but really, it’s like saying, you’ve trained your whole life for going to space but I have so much money that I can go anytime I want. We all know Neil Armstrong’s immortal line, “ That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Here, this line is more like, “ That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for myself.” This whole Billionaire Space Race will only benefit themselves when they could focus on greater problems instead.

But, think about the billionaires’ perspective. They’ve worked hard their whole lives to reach where they are now, and if they die without making some mark, wouldn’t it be like a waste? ( Well, not exactly a waste.) But, wouldn’t it be your ambition to leave something of yourself behind if you’ve achieved something? As a way of proudly saying, I did it. Something for history to remember you by. But, we’re always attracted to the shiny things and never the dull ones. That’s why the billionaires are setting their sights on space to make their mark.

Is it necessary?

No. Period. Going to space, especially right now, is not at all necessary. We’ve already been to the moon and have been in space. It’s not necessary to do it again. What is necessary, is to focus on our current problems. The pandemic, for one, and even the ones we originally started with. ( Not to mention the intense heatwaves we’ve been experiencing lately. The recent space projects are just adding more heat to it.) Poverty, hunger, lack of education, etc. Instead of spending so much money on things we’ve done, spend it on what isn’t. Again, one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. If these billionaires want their names to be in history books or to have a legacy, why not have one about solving a hunger crisis, or building roads in Africa, or even creating electricity that millions of poor families can use, and is free. Sure, these might be small steps, but at least they’ll have a greater impact on the world, and not just themselves. At least it’ll be a great leap for mankind. 

What should billionaires do instead with the money?

Everyone’s first answer to this would be, donating it. However, I say not. First, donating just money isn’t going to change anything. If you give money to feed a man, he’ll only be fed once. Then you’ll have to donate again and again. They’ll become more dependent on those giving money when they should become independent. It sounds heartless, but it’s reality. The only way they’ll get out of poverty, is if they can start doing it themselves. 
True story. A few days ago I and my friends went to a roller rink. There were 4 of us in total, and only two- including me- knew how to skate. The other two were new at skating, so we had to teach them. We gave them instructions and demonstrated, but they weren’t learning anything. They were mostly dependent on us to hold their hands so they wouldn’t fall and to move them. But, once we let them go and went skating ourselves, the two of them got the hang of it themselves. They became self-reliant to learn how to skate and figure out what works best for them. If they had kept depending on us to help them, they wouldn’t have learned how to skate at all. Same thing here.
Instead of just donating money for others to feed those who are starving, we should instead teach them how to feed themselves. If you feed a man a fish, he’ll be full once. But, if you teach him how to fish, he’ll never go hungry again. Moreover, we should start using successful strategies other countries used to decrease poverty rates. For example, how America is fighting poverty. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty in 1964 in the United States, and now, a larger share of poor Americans are in their prime working years, and fewer are elderly. 
President Lyndon B. Johnson
In 1960, the poverty rate in the US was 22.1%, and in 2013 it became 14.5%. Through the Food Stamp Act of 1964 and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, to name a few, America started to win its war. Why not establish some of these ideas for countries like India or Africa? It could make an impact like it did with America. 
But also, just money cannot solve these problems. We need proper action, and that takes time. Just giving money to organizations or foundations to solve things won’t work. Billionaires should try to come up with unique solutions and create something with all the resources and money they have which can solve these problems faster, and bring us forward. Like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We need proper action, and not just money. 

Donate time, energy, and resources to get things done. Try to take matters into your own hands and work hard again for mankind to make a leap. You’ve worked your butts off when you were kids to get this far, so shouldn’t you keep doing that? Just because you now have money doesn’t mean you should stop working hard. It’s as if you’re giving up. Maybe I don’t know how hard you’ve worked, but I do know that you shouldn’t stop working hard, even if you’ve succeeded in one thing.

There’s one more idea as well. Even though space travel should not be the top priority on our lists right now, billionaires and NASA could team-up. NASA has the resources and budget for missions, but very few people. Billionaires have the people. Together, they could save money and resources on both ends, and get more missions done. NASA’s missions are really slow, and if the two team up, not only could NASA speed up their missions, but the billionaires could also get their goals accomplished and have their people or even themselves in space. Plus, with the extra money that NASA previously had in their budget, now replaced with mostly billionaire’s money, the government could solve more problems in the US regarding hunger, poverty, and even global warming. 

Then why is India going to Mars?

There have been many, many arguments about this topic, and I want to say, those who start it don’t understand. 
India has a population of 1.36 billion people, and about 60% of people live on $3.10 a day. Despite this, India continues to plan Mars missions. Families barely have money to send their kids to school, or even feed them a proper meal, or even one at all. Some marry their daughters before they’re of legal age because they don’t want her to suffer and want her to have a happier life. They work several odd jobs, and the money they make from that is barely enough to keep themselves afloat, and yet they try every day. I can’t put myself in their shoes. No matter how much I write about their problems and struggles, I’m never going to understand. I’ll never know what it is like to go hungry for days, and not be able to sleep. I’ll never know what it’s like to have to drop out of school after a few years just so I could get a job and start earning money to help my family live. I’ll never know how it’ll feel if my parents or family members were sick or hungry, and not be able to properly help them. I’ll never be able to feel the pain and the actual struggles they go through unless I’ve gone through it as well. People who do, get angry at their government because they aren’t helping their families, simply because their kids are hungry, they’re sick, and they’re tired. And I would too. But, because of that, they won’t understand why. 
The Indian government is trying to create an opportunity for their people. America is known for being a land of opportunities, and so many people from all around the world travel there just for that. Indians dominate engineering and medical fields, and make up so many other jobs. Why? Because there is opportunity here. India started space exploration to create an opportunity for their people. To stop the bleed that has been ongoing for years and years. Their talents are all being used in another country, so ISRO is made for them to stay. Why go all the way to work at NASA when you can work at ISRO, here? 
If India didn’t focus on space exploration and worked more on decreasing poverty levels, what would happen? There would be a bigger bleed. More families and kids would thrive, and they would look for jobs and opportunities. However, since there aren’t enough opportunities available, they go to America. I’m not saying India shouldn’t focus on poverty, but that they should also focus on creating more opportunities, such as ISRO, so more Indians can stay and build the country. 
ISRO Chandrayaan 2
{Source: Twitter}
But, opportunity is not the only reason ISRO exists. Going to Mars is crucial for India to make a name for itself. Before, India would be known for it’s bursting population and how most of it is in poverty. Or worse, simply looked down upon or not included in the landscape. But, as soon as word came out they were going to space, everyone was intrigued. Sure, people were doubtful, and even mocking them for trying, but India stood firm to say they were here. They were trying to make themselves heard and were trying to say, look at us, a country with a huge population, few resources, and most of which is in poverty, and yet we could go to the moon or even travel to Mars. They made themselves heard, and made themselves a part of the landscape. 
India Space Mission Cartoon

In conclusion….

The Billionaire Space Race is unnecessary, and in reality, a waste of money. While there are so many pending problems in the world such as roads that need to be built in Africa, poverty in India, and hunger all around the world, these billionaires are trying to be the first ones in space or establish a legacy in a shiny area. Who cares? You can go to space any time you want. In fact, it should be our last priority. We’re just making it out of a pandemic and have another variant coming around. People aren’t able to get vaccinated in certain areas or even fed! Families have to give up what little food they have for their kids so they can try to keep their families afloat. Africa needs roads to go to markets, school, jobs, doctors, and even for trade and specialization of tasks that us fundamental for economic growth.  Instead of setting your eyes on a shiny toy, why not fix the broken ones that we have. Like Neil Armstrong said, a giant leap for mankind. Do it so we, as a world and species, can go forward. Not just you.