I want to start off by declaring that personally, I do not have a problem with rich dudes going to space, because if I did, I’d be a big (okay, bigger than I am currently) hypocrite, since I would love to ride in a cramped Soyuz and rocket into space to float around in the International Space Station. No question. Of course, there are plenty of people who think this sort of thing is a waste of resources that could be spent helping people on Earth, and when that was suggested to billionaire Yusaku Maezawa his response was, well, hilarious. Though I’m really not sure that was the intent.
During an interview with the Associated Press, Maezawa responded to people who criticized his choice to spend about $80 million on the dozen-day mission to the ISS by saying, “Those who criticize are perhaps those who have never been to space.”
Yes. Perhaps they are, Yusaku. That seems like a safe bet.
The response reminded me of this famous exchange from the Simpsons between Homer and Elon Musk’s ex-girlfriend’s namesake:
Maezawa is clearly extremely interested in space travel and is willing to spend money to achieve it. He’s also the person who chartered the first SpaceX Starship flight to the moon, tentatively planned for 2023 — a flight he plans to share with six to eight artists.
While I do understand some of the criticisms of how incredibly wealthy people spend their money, I don’t get why these sorts of questions tend to get lobbed when space travel is involved. Rich people spend money on far stupider things than going into space every single day, and there’s rarely the same sort of judgement. At least at this kind of scale.
A massive yacht purchase or an island renovation or getting all your underpants gilded or all that other rich-person nonsense doesn’t give one the sense of wonder and a realization of the mind-numbing scale of the cosmos, and the tiny, vulnerable uniqueness of the Earth and all her life in context like space travel can.
So, maybe it’s not such a bad thing. Of course, if you’ve not been to space, then, well, I guess you just might not realize that.
You really should go.