The Titans of the Space Industry
In this datalog, we’ll be taking a look at the latter-day Space Cowboys: Musk, Bezos, and Branson. These Titans of the Space Industry have made powerful, disruptive, and innovative changes to the way we see and use space, all the way from Low Earth Orbit to Mars. And all in the last fifteen years…
All the signs indicate that it’s going decade or two be an exciting few decades!
Elon Musk, who is now in his late forties, grew up tinkering with just about everything at his disposal. Early on, as a teenager, he was interested in writing code and built a simple app that could collect money from you and pass it on to someone else. A few years later, PayPal was born. And a few years after that (2002), Paypal was bought by eBay for 1.5 billion dollars.
By that time, though, his interest swayed to rocket design and the concept of reusable rockets. With the money he got from eBay, he founded SpaceX.
Our story picks up about that time in the datalog with his name on it.
In his mid-50s, Jeff Bezos made profound changes in his life and even more significant changes in the eCommerce industry — so much so that Brick and Mortar stores are closing stores by the dozens, scores and even hundreds. Remeber Toys-R-Us? Gone. All 700 of its stores closed in late 2017 and the first half of 2018.
Bezos graduated from Princeton in 1886 with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science. He found himself working in Wall Street or eight years; he walked away from those roles in early 1994. Later that year, he founded Amazon, a nascent online bookstore.
Amazons’ first year of orders were handled by Bezos and just over a dozen acquaintances. But the business — and the staff — grew by leaps and bounds over the next decade, particularly as people became more familiar with the use of the Internet. The company branched out from selling books to streaming music and video.
Eventually, it seemed that they were selling everything available in the world, as evidenced in the series of advertisements in the 2000s in which a harried Amazon employee is looking for large cavernous placed to store all of Amazon’s inventory. Apparently, neither a blimp hanger nor a football stadium was big enough for the company’s storage needs. Since then, Amazon ads have been featured routinely as Superbowl breaks.
Bezos added to his business interests when he founded aerospace company Blue Origin in 2000. A Blue Origin test flight successfully first reached space in 2015 and Blue has plans to begin commercial suborbital human spaceflight as early as late 2018.
But the datalog about Bezos isn’t so much for Amazon as it is for Jeff Bezos, the man.
Richard Branson, the oldest of the three at 67, has been wheeling and dealing since he was sixteen, giving him a 50-year track record as a serial entrepreneur and a portfolio of businesses that is simply staggering. We often think of Sir Richard Branson in terms of his space tourism enterprise called Virgin Galactic, but as we’ll see in his datalog, that’s only a tiny tip of the corporate iceberg. He’s had his failures, but also a fascinating series of successes. Around 2000, Sir Richard followed up on an interest in space that stemmed all the way back fifty years to the Apollo landing on the Moon.
And the common element among these three billionaires? Space!
And that’s what we’re going to concentrate in each of the three datalogs…