Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Other Space Adventurers

 The inception of the People's Party, our nation's most successful 3rd party, arose out of the Populist Movement, from men and women who thought they had a better idea for a political party that would represent the ideas and needs of workers.  People with the notion they have better ideas exist in nearly everything, from automobile manufacturers to restauranteurs to dress designers to baseball fans to nearly anything you can imagine.  Those who long to travel in space are no different, and the competition to create the best transportation into space includes more than just Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.  The space race of governments has cooled, but now the civilians, especially very wealthy men, are in the race.

A previous blog introduced you to the two men who succeeded in their quest, Branson and Bezos, but this blog post will share a few others who have responded to the challenge.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk probably deserves to be introduced next, as the founder, CEO, and Chief Engineer at SpaceX.  Among the very wealthy men in the race into space, Musk may be the wealthiest, a healthy portion of which came from the sale of PayPal in 2002 for $1.5 billion.  Now, in addition to his interest in space travel, he is CEO of Tesla, which is the electric vehicle manufacturer (Tesla Motors) and SolarCity, a solar energy services company (Tesla Energy).  His success story is particularly interesting because he says that 25 years ago he could not afford an office and an apartment, so he slept on the office couch and showered at the YMCA.

Paul Allen

Paul Allen was among those excited by the prospect of space travel, and having co-founded Microsoft Corporation with Bill Gates he had achieved the wealth to pursue other dreams.  His dreams sounded like a lot of fun, including owning the Seattle Seahawks, the Portland Trail Blazers, and part ownership of  the Seattle Sounders Major League Soccer team.  In 2018 Forbes estimated his net worth at $20.3 billion, and in addition to the sports' teams his portfolio included real estate, technology, scientific research, and media companies.  However, his holdings in private space flight ventures are what puts him in this group.  Sadly, he died in 2018.

Naveen Jain

Naveen Jain grew up in New Delhi and in villages in India.  He obtained an engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee in 1979 and moved to the United States that same year.  He proudly calls himself an entrepreneur, admitting that he has never started two companies in the same industry and feels that has forced him " ask all the curious questions that children love to ask--those we sometimes call 'stupid questions' but which are often brilliant." He co-founded Moon Express, and after facing a series of lawsuits, he announced that Moon Express had become the first private enterprise to receive regulatory approval from the US government to send a robotic lander to the moon.  There goal was to use the robot to mine materials like gold, cobalt, platinum, and Helium from the moon.  I found no further news after the 2017 article.

Robert Thomas Bigelow

Robert Thomas Bigelow made his wealth with the hotel chain Budget Suites of America.  Of all the space adventurers, he is perhaps the most unconventional.  After acquiring his wealth from a hotel chain, he was finally able to begin the space travel career he had chosen for himself at the age of 12.  He is drawn to parapsychological topics, including the continuation of consciousness after death.   By 2011 Forbes estimated his wealth at $700 million.  In 1999 he founded Bigelow Aerospace, and his module, called BEAM, was installed on the International Space Station to test its expandable habitat technology.  News reports indicate that in March of 2020 all 88 members of the company's staff were terminated in what someone called "a perfect storm of problems," including the fact that the Nevada governor had signed a covid emergency directive ordering all 'nonessential' businesses to close.  The most recent information I found indicated that in March of 2021, he sued NASA for $1.05 million. 

My sources are public information, and I have no ability to verify further.  All that I can be fairly certain of is that this group is particularly intrigued about space.  

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