Before, billionaires collected works of art, financed museums and foundations, or ordered sumptuous yachts from shipyards. While most continue to spend their money this way, a new generation has higher ambitions.
For the past few years, the Elon Musks, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have their eyes riveted on space. Everyone is spending billions of dollars of their own fortune to fund space exploration companies. It is this adventure that retraces “Ligne Rouge” this Monday evening, with the document “Space, the war of the billionaires”, to see in replay on RMC BFM Play.
These dreams of space are rooted in the childhood of billionaire entrepreneurs who grew up watching television and the first steps of Man on the Moon. The founder of Amazon was 5 years old when Neil Armstrong set foot on lunar soil on July 21, 1969.
With his fortune made, in 2000 he founded the company Blue Origin, which he financed with his own funds. “My economic model is to sell a billion dollars of Amazon shares each year to finance Blue Origin”, he explained during a press conference. And with an estate currently valued at $ 200 billion, Jeff Bezos can spend lavishly.
If Jeff Bezos wants to become the first private champion of the conquest of space, it is without counting on a rival of size: Elon Musk, the boss of Tesla.
A few years younger than Bezos, Elon Musk also has stars in his eyes when he talks about his space projects. A passion that the engineer who made his fortune by selling his shares in the company Paypal has also nourished since childhood. But unlike the boss of Amazon, Musk was not born in the days of the Apollo missions. The sources of his space conquest imagination are more to be found in the sci-fi literature with which the native of Pretoria in South Africa grew up.
Less wealthy than Jeff Bezos until recently, Elon Musk first turned to Russia to buy user launchers. Faced with Russian skepticism which offered him a prohibitive selling price, the entrepreneur decided to do without them and founded SpaceX in 2002 to develop its own launchers. Its objective: to create reusable rockets that would be able to land after having launched them.
Jeff Bezos has the same ambition: to lower the costs of sending launchers to space in order to send there more regularly, equipment, people and satellites.
TO?? a period when national agencies like NASA saw their budgets cut, the two entrepreneurs instilled a start-up spirit in astronautics. The material is handcrafted in sheds and failures are numerous. But the two billionaires do not disassemble. After an enormous crash of his Falcon rocket, philosopher Elon Musk:
Successes which begin to arrive in the years 2010. The rockets of the two billionaires become more reliable and the contracts begin to flow.
For the two rivals, it will be the sending of telecommunications satellites that will ultimately finance more distant explorations. While 6000 satellites currently gravitate above our heads, Elon Musk wants to send more than 40,000 to connect to the Internet half of the world population who does not yet have access to it.
Jeff Bezos, for his part, is focusing on space tourism, which he hopes to democratize within a few years. A few days after that of Richard Branson, the founder of Amazon made his first flight in low orbit at an altitude of 107 km on board the Blue Sheppard rocket. In a few days, it will be Elon Musk’s turn to send civilians into space aboard his Crew Dragon rocket.
But these little tours around the Earth are only appetizers, assure the billionaires. Elon Musk who believes in the end of mankind on the blue planet wants to set up settlements on Mars. It aims for the first manned flights for 2024 for the red planet. A calendar considered crazy by all the experts but which marks the spirits. NASA has thus chosen its company Space X to lead its next mission to the Moon. The first since 1972.
In the communication war that opposes him to Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos had to raise the glove. The boss of Blue Origin who aimed for a modest return to the Moon now speaks of space colonies for humanity on board huge cylinders imagined in the 1970s by physicist Gerard K. Oâ ??? ? Neill. Bezos imagines that one day humanity will live in space in such spaceships. No project and even less schedule to date. For his detectors, the founder of Amazon sells this time especially … dreams.