Economics/Class Relations

The Great Billionaire Space Caper

By Matt Taibbi

Let’s fly the first black woman to the moon, but send the checks to Jeff Bezos! On the congressional hustle that perfectly captures 2022 America.

In a story that shows how hard it is to deter a billionaire ravenous for public money, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and The Washington Post fame appears to have prevailed upon buddies in the Senate to keep alive a childhood dream of not only going to the moon, but getting the public to pay for it. A Bezos company officially lost this moon contract three times in less than a year, but the fourth time’s a charm: thanks to congress, his Jason Voorhees-like determination may be rewarded with a contract worth $6 billion or more.

On March 28th, Joe Biden released his fiscal year 2023 budget, which despite eyebrow-raising changes — in particular, a 10% increase in defense spending — generated few headlines. One of the few items the press did cover was this passage:

The Budget provides $7.5 billion, $1.1 billion above the 2021 enacted level, for Artemis lunar exploration. Artemis would return American astronauts to the Moon as early as 2025, land the first woman and person of color on the Moon…

It was unclear if the budget language was describing one person, or two, or more (headline writers seemed confused on that front as well). Still, the FY 2023 budget merely put into writing what NASA announced last year, and what’s been the buzz on the Hill for a while: that the space agency’s next big goal is to put a black woman on the moon. “The Apollo generation,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in March, “has passed the torch.”


Leave a Reply