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regular-article-logo Friday, 23 February 2024

What money can't buy

Money, loads of it, help the rich push the boundaries of adventuring to impossible limits, but it is still adventure with all the risks of adventuring as the missing Titan submersible will continue to remind

Upala Sen Published 26.06.23, 04:55 PM

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Multi-millionaire Dennis Tito paid $20 million to space tourism company Space Adventures to fly to the International Space Station, the largest modular space station in low Earth orbit. This was 2001 and Tito was the first to pay for a space adventure. Tito was 60 and had trained for nearly a year before he could take the Soyuz flight. Last year, Tito, who is now 82 and his wife Akiko signed up for a trip on Elon Musk's futuristic SpaceX Starship that will take them on a “spin around the moon”. It is supposed to be a weeklong trip and will reportedly bring those inside within 200 kilometres of the Moon without landing on its surface. The price the Titos paid for the two seats remains undisclosed.

Twenty years later

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Twenty years after Tito’s takeoff, billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos were locked in a furious and expensive race to space. On July 11, 2021, Branson travelled to space. Bezos made the journey nine days later. Post Branson’s safe landing, his spaceflight company Virgin Galactic opened ticket sales to the public. A single ticket to space was priced at $4,50,000. Its first commercial spaceflight is scheduled for launch this month. Bezos’s flight took him 3,30,000 feet above Earth as against Branson’s 2,82,000 feet; it crossed the space boundary known as the Karman line.

Pushing the boundary

Bezos’s space exploration company Blue Origin auctioned the first ticket on the New Shepard. The winning bid was $28 million. Both Branson and Bezos have said that space travel is something they have wanted to do since they were children. Both want others to experience this too. Others, who have several million bucks to spare for this and some more for a life back on Earth like Japanese billionaire and entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa. He spent $80 million on his 12-day trip to the International Space Station in 2021. Tickets for the Titan submersible cost $2,50,000. It was nearly 13,000 feet in the North Atlantic when it lost contact with the mother ship. Hamish Harding, who was one of the billionaire's onboard the submersible, had taken a trip to space and back last year.

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