Dozens of thousands of people have signed a petition to stop Jeff Bezos from returning to Earth after his trip to space next month.
Bezos, founder of space-exploration firm Blue Origin, said on June 7 that he and his brother Mark Bezos will fly into space aboard the “New Shepard” rocket on July 20 — the company’s first human flight.
The New Shepard program is named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to go into space.
“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend,” Bezos wrote on Instagram.
He added: “To see the earth from space — it changes you.”
Bezos fascinated by space
In his graduation speech at the University of Florida, Bezos told the audience he dreamed of the day when mankind would colonize space. A local newspaper quoted his intention “to get all people off the earth and see it turned into a huge national park.”
The Bezos brothers, one auction winner who paid $28 million for the privilege, and a fourth person will become the first crew aboard the reusable rocket for its 11-minute voyage into space.
Bezos, along with Richard Branson with his Virgin Galactic, wants to expand space tourism, a vision that stands in stark contrast to Elon Musk. The SpaceX CEO has long touted his goal to make humanity into a multi-planetary species. This would start with a city on Mars by the year 2050.
While SpaceX has made steps toward civilian spaceflights, its main revenue focus has been on commercial satellite launches and its Starlink internet service.
The auction for the very first seat on #NewShepard has concluded with a winning bid of $28 million. The winning bid amount will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, @ClubforFuture. Full replay of the auction webcast: https://t.co/5Vc8IvWxJR pic.twitter.com/IlGbgOFmhx
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) June 12, 2021
Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, has a net worth of more than $200 billion and, as of June 2021, he is the richest person in the world, according to both Forbes and Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
On February 2, 2021, Bezos announced that he would step down as the CEO of Amazon sometime in the third quarter of 2021, and transition into the role of executive chairman.
Impressed by the entrepreneurial environment in Greece, Amazon recently announced that it will soon open its first office in Athens as part of the conglomerate’s ongoing investment in the country. Amazon had previously opened a CloudFront location in the capital city.
Petitions for Bezos to stay away from Earth
His astonishing wealth has created a lot of admirers — but there also many who dislike him. As soon as he announced his intention to fly to space, at least two petitions were launched to try and prevent the billionaire’s re-entry to Earth that have both garnered thousands of followers.
More than 37,000 people have signed one Change.org petition titled: “Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth.”
“Billionaire’s (sic) should not exist…on earth, or in space, but should they decide the latter they should stay there,” the petition’s description said.
Another petition, called “Petition To Not Allow Jeff Bezos Re-Entry To Earth,” has accumulated more than 19,000 signatures and is quickly gaining traction.
Jose Ortiz, who set up the petition, said in the description that Bezos is “an evil overlord hellbent on global domination.”
“The fate of humanity is in your hands,” Ortiz also wrote.
History of Blue Origin’s “New Shepard”
Bezos founded the aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company Blue Origin in 2000.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle reached space in 2015, and successfully landed back on Earth afterward. The company has upcoming plans to begin commercial suborbital human spaceflight.
It made its first test flight on April 29, 2015. The uncrewed vehicle flew to its planned test altitude of more than 93.5 km (307,000 feet) and achieved a top speed of Mach 3 (3,675 km/h; 2,284 mph). The crew capsule separated from the booster before returning to Earth and landing under parachutes.
The booster, however, experienced a hydraulic failure that prevented it from landing and it was destroyed on impact.
On January 14, 2021, New Shepard successfully performed the first test flight of the New Shepard 4 (NS4), the fourth propulsion module to be built. It reached a maximum altitude of almost 107 km (350,827 ft).
On the April 14, 2021, New Shepard successfully performed a landing with the reused rocket from the last flight.