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18WT 030:  The Billionaire Space Race!

Patrick Heller / Janet McCue

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18WT 030:  Well as usual our hosts start the show with laughter. Patrick is still messing with his microphone trying to get it adjusted properly, and the first cuss word flies. They start the show with the family ready to go including pugs underfoot. Janet was so excited that Mom Heller called to let her know that their favorite coffee-flavored candy was available on Amazon. Janet said she ordered her 5lbs of coffee nips and can’t wait for them to get here.  And that they will put a link in the show notes just in case anyone wants to order their own.  Janet goes about with bunny ears, which sets Patrick off the rails in a tangent, and they joked saying the show was over and thanks for joining the candy show.

So now on with the show. Janet says Let us talk about the billionaire space race.  And Patrick interrupts with if you are watching the video to hit the like button and smash the ding a ling bell.  To which Janet chimes in with tip your head down, I will smash it.

Patrick didn’t find humor in that comment and begins to tell Janet to adjust her red microphone arm.   Janet goes into a rant about the different red things she wants, and Patrick didn’t let her buy.

Back in from the left field, they start to talk about the billionaire space race.  First up is Richard Branson of Virgin Mobile, Virgin everything. Next up is Jeff Bezos ex-CEO of Amazon who stepped down so he could play in space with his Blue Origin Space Program. Third, on the list is Elon Musk with his Space X program and Janet mentions his mother Maye Musk, and they both talk about how stunning she is.

So, the billionaire space race looks set to kick space tourism into gear in earnest shortly.  But the implications of these developments aren’t quite as rosy as Branson’s overly optimistic message implies. And dreaming big billionaire-style might come at a hefty toll for the rest of us.  Branson fulfilled his boyhood dream by launching himself 53 miles up to the edge of space to feel weightlessness. The hosts go on a tangent of different places he could have gone to feel weightlessness.  Like the local fair, NASA (and got in their gravity booth), the carnival, the state fair, the mall, iSky here in Arizona, and got on the big fan that is used for skydiver training.

Branson was quoted as saying “to all you kids out there I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars. Now I am an adult in a spaceship looking down at the earth. If we can do this just imagine what you can do.” Janet adds it was supposed to be a landmark moment for the fledgling space tourism industry.  Yeah, if it did not cost a quarter of a million dollars and up that if it was like 50 bucks, she would be all in. Patrick jokes with Janet that she would have her head hanging out the window and her hair would look like a medusa when she got into space.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is in hot pursuit and is slated for his self-funded trip later this month with Elon Musk planning to launch an all-civilian crew into orbit later this year.

First, there is the environmental cost of space travel. Virgin Galactic claims that the carbon footprint for passengers of its suborbital space flight is comparable to that of a business class ticket on a transatlantic flight. Patrick chimes in with Branson’s dick was not big enough to make it into orbit.  He goes on to say that this is nothing but three rich mother fuckers trying to see who has the bigger dick.  The company says that emissions will be offset but it is still an enormous price to pay for the sake of a few minutes in zero gravity.  Patrick looks up Richard Branson’s space program name, and the antics start to pop as to who was right, but Patrick tells Janet that she is half left and Janet proceeds to tell Patrick she is always correct. Janet gives Patrick crap about licking a pencil to jot down a note, and he starts talking funny which makes her laugh as she says, “you’re killing me smalls”.

Now on to Jeff Bezos’s space company Blue Origin.  They claim its ship’s environmental impact will be comparably low thanks to its liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engines, which do not emit carbon. However, the production of hydrogen fuels depends heavily on fossil fuels like natural gas and the steam reformation process which creates them releases carbon dioxide. Patrick says well if there are enough trees around it will be ok right? Janet agrees and says we need to plant more trees like ALOT more trees and these guys should be planting them.

Patrick goes on to say that the pandemic kind of helped our environment because when the stay-at-home order was in place it was like the planet took a deep breath, the grass got greener, the sky got bluer, fewer clouds, less pollution, fewer cars, and then Janet says we need to go back to horse and buggy again. Patrick picks on Janet by saying she is going back to a previous life she says yes like Joan of Arc. Patrick thought it was Lady Godiva Janet agreed with always on a horse and always fighting the good fight. So, which one is it Patrick asks cause one was naked and one carried a sword to which Janet’s reply was I like weapons and being naked.  Patrick goes oh ok and then OHHH OOKKK!! And the laughter ensues.

Janet continues with so whether the environmental impact of these trips offset or not we can only hope. But don’t you think this feels weird with the richest people in the world directing their resources to what amounts to a big dick-swinging contest? I have more money than you? Like, watch what I can spend my money on? At the time of this recording, Branson has gone, and Bezos is about to go.

So, let’s imagine what these three men could do with all that money instead of throwing it into these space endeavors.  Janet says they could cure cancer, covid, and A.I.D.S. and still be rich. Patrick chimes in with the Microsoft guy what’s his name Bill Gates you know the creator of the coronavirus plus the vaccine and Janet wants to know why he is not in on all of this.  Patrick’s response was he is too busy creating vaccines for the virus he created but that is another rant for another time.

Right now, 1) the Western US is experiencing another day of record-breaking temperatures, 2) across 12 states, 55 large fires have burned 768,307 acres burning over the weekend, and 3) over 24 million people are under heat alerts with more than 100 deaths which some Oregon officials are referring to as a mass casualty event. We here in Arizona are used to this type of weather and people joke does it even snow in the valley, yes it does but by the time it gets close to the ground it has evaporated.  But they said if it did snow in Phoenix the drivers would be all over the place. Death Valley reported a low temperature of 107.7 degrees which is the highest overnight low ever recorded in North America. The average high temperature for Death Valley is 116.4 degrees the average low is 88.0 degrees. Our hosts compare the weather up north as the lowest low in the winter here we talk about the highest low. With the temperature being that hot, nothing can cool off. They remind people about their last episode (episode 29) about pet safety and if the temperature is 97 degrees out the pavement temp is like 145 degrees so, with that said if Death Valley was at a temperature of 107.7 at night, we can only imagine that it would feel like 160 degrees or hotter.

According to scientists, the recent heatwave in the Pacific Northwest would have been “virtually impossible” without the effects of human-caused climate change. Yep, Janet says we all caused this, people. Patrick pipes in and says, that is why we are all going on these rocket ships to live on the space station. After a little prayer…lol Patrick continues with we have not figured out how to live on Mars and so, that’s why they are building the space station and a really big one so we can orbit the earth.

Janet takes a turn and goes on a rant and talks about how people that have known her growing up, and people that lived near her knows she has not used a lot of chemicals on her lawn, always recycling, always takes care of where she lived that sort of stuff.  But she has never thought of herself as a crusader for the environment but almost feels like one now because of some of the stupid people that she sees and so Patrick brings her back down off the ledge so to speak with “woo-sahhhh” and some “goose fried rice” “I like fried rice” and laughter ensues.

Mitigating further climate damage is the most urgent challenge currently facing the planet one which should interest the world’s billionaires far more than that of stepping just over the threshold of space. Patrick goes on to say that it is just a let us see who got the bigger dick and that you can’t fix stupid. He goes on to say that if he had their money, he would do what he can to help fix the environment, I might have broken it a little and can do what he can, but he would not be able to do it all by himself.

So, what is the big deal that they are so anti-environmental to get into space Janet asked and Patrick responded that they think there might be some financial incentive to get into the space tourism game? It looks set to boom to the tune of about 5 billion dollars by 2025 sounds relevant until you consider the fact that the men hoping to cash in are already rich beyond most people’s wildest dreams.

Now let us break it down for you how much are these men worth. Richard Branson is worth nearly $8 billion who owns Virgin Group operating in 35 countries worldwide and owns more than 40 companies and employs a workforce of more than 60,000 strong. That leaves Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk who have been tripping over each other throughout this coronavirus pandemic trading places as the world’s richest person and Bezos is currently valued at about $211 billion, an all-time world record.

Now imagine if you would if they pooled all their resources together. They can fix deforestation, they can fix all the infrastructure problems, they can fix erosion, they can fix so many problems and still be wealthier than pretty much anyone else on earth.

Branson does have an enthusiastic imagination, his trip to space was effectively a much diluted far posher version of a feat that already was achieved more than 60 years ago. Yuri Gagarin’s groundbreaking flight in Vostok 1. He was a soviet carpenter’s son who survived the Nazi occupation of Russia actually accomplished something far greater by orbiting for 108 minutes before returning to earth. Patrick said so he has a bigger dick than Branson does. Come on Branson you have to orbit the Earth. Patrick really does like Branson and would love him to adopt him. Janet requests that Bezos and Musk give her 10 million dollars each so she can do some good in the world. Patrick proceeds to tell Janet to get off her high horse and the show continues with our hosts singing the theme song to the movie “Bad Boys”.

So now Virgin Galactic already has reserved tickets for future flights at the tune of $200,000-$250,000 with an A-list of about 200 stars that have already signed up and paid for. Patrick asks Janet who she thinks will come up with the ability to get us to Mars. Patrick feels it will be Elon Musk because his rockets have the ability to take off and land without any booster rockets, he believes. Janet feels it will be Musk also because Branson has already gone up and with Bezos next in line, she says Musk will have the data and learn from their mistakes if any. This will allow him time to adjust his game plan and needs in anything he already has built to help his flight.

Astronauts who have traveled far further than Richard Branson tend to describe a feeling of unity and coherence and an overwhelming sense of the Earth being fragile when they look back on the bright blue globe hanging in the blackness of space. Patrick thinks that it would be cool to see the Earth from space he also says it kind of looks like a marble. Janet says she sees the Earth as being fragile and she can see Patrick point of view with a reference to the movie “Men in Black”. Patrick goes on with his “conspiracy theory” that some people and Columbus thought the world was flat, but we now know that from space it looks round to him. Janet pipes in with some people still believe that the world is flat and that they can fake those pictures from space.

NASA astronaut Ron Garan wrote a book called “The Orbital Perspective”. He said that as he gazed upon paradise, the earth, of the nearly one billion people who do not have clean water to drink the countless number who go to bed hungry every night, the social injustice, conflicts, and poverty that remain pervasive across the planet. That’s what he thinks of so imagine if only Richard Branson had paid a little more attention instead of saying “To all you kids out there I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars. Now I’m an adult in a spaceship”.  If he had only said wow earth looks so fragile, Patrick insists it's only a ploy to see who has the bigger dick in this space race. That it was his way of getting notoriety of being one of the first privatized for space travel; because he moved his flight up to beat Bezos into space even though he said it was just because they were ready to go.

Our hosts finish the show with a bunch of laughter and antics as always. Thank you for listening. If you made it this far into the description send us an email by clicking patrick@18wheeltalk.com in the upper right corner of any page on this site. Send us an email with the word t-shirt in the subject line,  in the body of the email please put your mailing address and t-shirt size (small up to 5XL) and we will mail you a t-shirt with the podcast show logo on it for FREE!  Disclaimer - only one T-shirt per household and email address. And since you made all the way to the end scroll down a little more and leave us 5 stars and a comment.

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