[Excerpt] WHAT do Amazon.com’s founder Jeff Bezos, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, Virgin’s Richard Branson and Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen have in common, apart from their billions? The legendary entrepreneurs all share a love of space travel and are not shy of spending big chunks of their self-made wealth to boldly go where no one has gone before and conquer the final frontier.
As the fictional Captain James Kirk might put it, the billionaire “rocket men” are blazing a trail, helping to “explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilisations” and make space travel affordable for the masses, just as airline pioneers before them made air travel affordable. And it is not just Bezos, Musk, Branson and Allen who are dabbling in space. Sixteen of the world’s 1,000 or so billionaires, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Google’s Larry Page and Tencent Holdings’ Pony Ma, now have investments in the sector — everything from commercial satellites to launch start-ups and asteroid mining.