It has come to my attention that Jeff Bezos is going to space. Today, actually. I was hoping space would keep him, but … unfortunately, he has already returned, unscathed.
In an Instagram post in June, the man formerly known as Mr. Amazon announced that he would be onboard the first human spaceflight conducted by his rocket company, Blue Origin. “Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” he said on Instagram. He also shared that his brother, Mark Bezos, would be joining him for the ride, calling the trip “the greatest adventure, with my best friend.” (A random, rich 18-year-old from the Netherlands also went with them, if you were wondering.)
“To see the Earth from space, it changes you,” Bezos continued. “It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It’s one Earth. I want to go on this flight because it’s the thing I’ve wanted to do all my life. It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me.” Very cool, Jeff! Love to hear thoughts on humanity from the man whose yacht has its own yacht.
A little more than a month has passed between Jeff’s big announcement and today, the day he was ejected from Earth. This does not feel like enough time to prepare for a spaceflight. Most astronauts undergo about two years of basic training — they take language classes, Earth science classes, meteorology classes, space science classes, and engineering classes; they complete about 300 hours in flight simulators, and spend many hours underwater as an intro to space-walking; they fly jets and practice robotics — all before they even embark on their mission-specific training. Bezos, by comparison, received 14 hours of instruction spread over Sunday and Monday, which focused on emergency response and basic capsule functions. This sounds a little skimpy, but then, the Bezos space flight lasted only 11 minutes. This man was only a tourist tagging along, but don’t worry, he was “not nervous” for the big launch at all.
“I’m excited. I’m curious,” he said this morning. “I want to know what we’re going to learn.”
To my mind, 11 minutes does not leave time for any kind of space study, but whatever. Liftoff occurred just before 9:20 a.m., with the firing of the big metal phallus up into the sky.
Truly, I cannot emphasize enough just how much this rocket looks like a penis. Please, my eyes:
The passenger-carrying capsule separated from its booster at about 65 miles, or “the very edge of space,” at which point passengers unbuckled and experienced about three minutes of weightlessness — presumably just enough time to try a few zero-gravity somersaults — before returning to Earth.
While the July 20 spaceflight was originally supposed to make Bezos the first of the billionaire boys with space projects to travel aboard his own rocket, Richard Branson wound up winning this celestial pissing contest by more than a week. Branson and three Virgin Galactic crew members rocketed to the brink of space on the morning of July 11. Part of me wonders if “first billionaire in space” really checks out as a superlative anyway, seeing as these two both teetered right on the edge of Earth’s atmosphere.
Sadly, Bezos is already back on this planet, and back on his bullshit. During his post-flight debrief, he took a moment “to thank every Amazon employee, and every Amazon customer.” Why? Because they “paid for all of this.” Presumably he means the customers more than the employees, many of whom he famously subjects to grueling schedules and health-compromising conditions in exchange for very little money. Or maybe it’s those savings that allow him to take joyrides in space, who’s to say. Anyway, here’s Bezos talking nonsense while wearing a dumb little hat:
He reportedly went on to announce the creation of a new, Bezos-sponsored “courage and civility award,” which gives honorees $100 million to spend on the charity of their choice. Sounds like money he could use to pay his warehouse workers a living wage but … okay! You can see why space didn’t want to keep him.
This article has been updated.