Rocket men: how billionaires are using celebrities as PR for their space projects

Critics see the ‘awful business’ of private space tourism as having little technological or exploration value

As Star Trek’s iconic Captain James T Kirk, he voyaged the universe for the good of humanity. The nonagenarian actor William Shatner’s brief, real-life thrill ride off the planet today, however, is much less about advancing the species as promoting the fortunes of Blue Origin, the private space company owned by the Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos that’s taking him there.

Booking arguably the most famous fictional space traveler in history to front only the second crewed flight of Bezos’s New Shepard rocket system has secured a vast slew of positive publicity that not even the huge wealth of the world’s richest man could otherwise have purchased.

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