As Billionaires Race to Space, Some Wonder About Saving Earth

Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson are all trying to conquer the stars.

In this handout photo provided by SpaceX, a Tesla roadster launched from the Falcon Heavy rocket with a dummy driver named "Starman" heads towards Mars. (SpaceX via Getty Images)
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Elon Musk has his eyes set on Mars. Jeff Bezos wants to put a colony on the moon. And Richard Branson wants to offer luxury space tourism. As the three billionaires race to colonize space, some wonder why they aren’t trying to fix the planet we currently inhabit. Christian Davenport, author of The Space Barons, sat down with The Atlantic to discuss the billionaires and their visions for space, as well as why women are so underrepresented in space. Davenport says that the billionaires are very different, and therefore have very different plans. Musk is a marketing genius who likes media attention, while Bezos is more secretive. His project, Blue Origin, has been around since 2000, though many people don’t realize that. And Branson is all about the adventure — though space tourism is not coming as quickly as he thought.

As for fixing Earth, Musk has stated that if something should happen to Earth, we should have a backup plan (like putting humanity on Mars). Bezos, meanwhile, thinks that Plan B should be to make sure Plan A works and that Earth should be preserved and protected. He thinks the way to do that is to go to space because it has unlimited resources, unlike Earth. As for the gender divide, Davenport says that the billionaire space club is definitely male-dominated, but there is a push in the industry, especially at NASA, to try to promote women.

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