- February 19, 2021 5:00 AM
- August 15, 2020 6:35 AM
- March 15, 2021 3:19 AM
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
We are July 20, 1969, and Neil Armstrong has pronounced this historical sentence after setting foot on the moon. He is the first human being to have walked on soil other than that of Earth and this exploit shown live on television captivated people throughout the world.
With this spectacular success, the US space agency established its superiority over the Soviet program that had upstaged it in 1961 by sending for the first time a human being in space: the cosmonaut Youri Gagarine.
The conquest of space was then a government’s matter beyond the reach of the average person, even the wealthiest.
Twenty-two years later, we are not yet at the stage of going on an outing in space the same way we dive into the pool, but it’s heading in that direction. Within a few days of each other this month of July, billionaires Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, treated themselves to a few minutes of weightlessness some 100 kilometers above our heads with their own rockets and leaving from their own bases.
When they returned, they said that Earth seen from above was really beautiful. We could have guessed as much, thank you, and, considering what it cost them, they could hardly have said otherwise.
With this, the two men have, according to international media, launched the era of space tourism—a niche market that will cater to the extremely wealthy.
Bezos goes even further: Why not, now that we can go back and forth in space without having to build a new space rocket each time, set up, high up there, businesses that pollute our beautiful planet, he suggested.
Kind of protecting Earth’s environment by polluting up there.
This may sound crazy but let’s make sure we take this kind of comment seriously. After all who, except these two, would have imagined 22 years ago that two businessmen would on their own, without any government involvement, build a rocket to take “civilians” on a stroll above Earth’s atmosphere.
So, from now on, these two billionaires have the possibility of considering using space for their own interests or fantasies.
They have the capacity of deciding on their own how to develop space, how to exploit it.
On Earth, laws regulate the use of common goods of humanity such as the oceans. Nothing similar for what is happening above the atmosphere.
It would be time for the United Nations to be concerned about this, not to let a few billionaires decide behind closed doors what positive contribution space can make to Humanity.