Bezos and Musk have spent their lockdown contesting the top two places on the Forbes rich list. They’ve also been playing “mine is bigger than yours” in their own private space race for a couple of decades now. Bezos’s personal wealth almost doubled during the course of a pandemic that destroyed the lives and livelihoods of millions. He’s now stepping down to spend more time on Blue Origin, the company he hopes will deliver vast human colonies across the solar system.The declared aim of Musk’s rival company, SpaceX, is “to make humanity multiplanetary”. Just like Kim Stanley Robinson’s science fiction trilogy back in the 1990s, Musk aims to establish a permanent human colony on Mars. To get there, he reasons, we need very big rockets – or, in the original terminology of SpaceX, Big Fucking Rockets (BFRs) – eventually capable of transporting scores of people and hundreds of tonnes of equipment millions of miles across the solar system.
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