Chasing money for dreams in space
It was the autumn of seventh grade when I felt a strange sensation while walking across the school yard. The earth was turning at a dizzying speed. As a sensitive teenager, everything surrounding me, from the noise to the smell to the emotion, was overly vivid. I felt the revolution of the earth.
I must have been imagining things, but that sensation tickled me for a long time. I was just a small dot in the endless system of colossal existence, and the meaning of life was substantial and desperate. It was a mysterious experience.
During my adolescence, we all contemplated the meaning of self in the universe. Many people are influenced by the American television series Star Trek. The sci-fi series is about the adventure of the Starship Enterprise and its crew members. From 1966 to 2005, 726 episodes in 30 seasons have aired on television, and 11 movies have been made. The fans of the Star Trek series are called “Trekkies.”
The Trekkies are opening a new chapter in space exploration. On Tuesday, Falcon 9, the world’s first commercially built rocket, was launched in Florida. And the Dragon, the world’s first commercially developed spacecraft, was atop the rocket. If the Dragon docks onto the International Space Station, it will be a landmark event in space business. The architect of this project is Elon Musk, CEO of Space X.
He is a co-founder of PayPal, the Internet payment system, and he made a fortune when he sold the company to eBay. Instead of sticking to the online business, he started Space X. In an interview with American media, he said that many of the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, California, including himself, grew up reading sci-fi novels and watching Star Trek and it was only natural for them to be attracted to space exploration projects.
In 2000, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, the online bookseller, founded aerospace company Blue Origin. In March, he made headlines by announcing that the company has located the engine of Apollo 11 in the Atlantic Ocean and plans to recover it. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, also joined the space venture in 2004. His company Stratolaunch Systems is developing a space shuttle by having a large airplane launch a rocket. Google’s co-founder Larry Page and Chairman Eric Schmidt are major shareholders of Planetary Resources, an asteroid mining company. The age of civilian space industry has arrived. They are not just chasing money, but are chasing their dreams.
* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Lee Na-ree