One Giant Leap

A billionaire traveling to space changes what it means to be an astronaut

Stella Grist (she/her), co-Editor In Chief

      For 10 minutes and 10 seconds, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had a real life look at space. The billionaire traveled to space on a rocket named the New Shepard made by his own company July 20 with three others accompanying him. Bezos was joined by his brother, an 18-year-old and an 82-year-old, both the youngest and the oldest people to travel to space. 

     This journey was monumental for a number of reasons. The main one being that people could pay to join, an unconventional approach. In the past, astronauts go through substantial amounts of school and training, but aboard the New Shepard, its passengers simply bought a ticket. 

     According to the Associated Press, a winner of a charity auction bought their ticket for $28 million, but ended up choosing a later flight. Blue Origin, the company Bezos flew with, has two more fights planned, with tickets approaching $100 million. 

     Blue Origin isn’t the only company taking this unconditional approach. Virgin Galactic has taken flights like these in the past and is currently charging consumers $250,000 to reserve a seat on their future flights. 

     “It shows just how much the idea of who and what space is for has changed in the last 60 years,” University of Chicago space historian Jordan Bimm said in an article with the Associated Press.