Former SpaceX engineer says she was sexually harassed and ‘misogyny is rampant’ at Elon Musk’s rocket company

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule on the launch pad in Florida.
A SpaceX rocket and capsule at Cape Canaveral, Florida, in early November.

  • A former SpaceX engineer published an essay claiming the company is “rife with sexism.”
  • Former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak said she experienced sexual harassment from colleagues.
  • SpaceX and Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

A former SpaceX engineer published an essay on Tuesday accusing Elon Musk’s rocket company of fostering an environment “rife with sexism.”

Ashley Kosak, a former Mission Integration Engineer at the space company, said she faced sexual harassment while employed by SpaceX and that supervisors and human resources officials failed to adequately address the alleged incidents.

On Tuesday, The Verge reported that four more former employees said they had experienced or witnessed sexual harassment while at SpaceX. In three of the alleged cases, the former workers told the publication that they did not feel HR’s response was adequate.

A SpaceX spokesperson, as well as the company’s CEO, Musk, did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.

In the essay, Kosak, who said she started working at SpaceX in 2017 as an intern and became an engineer in 2019, alleged that a fellow intern grabbed her backside while she was in the kitchen of the intern housing unit where they were both staying. She said she told a superior and another co-worker.

Kosak also said that in 2018 “a male colleague ran his hand over my shirt, from my lower waist to my chest” at a team-bonding event while she was an intern. She said she told her supervisors and reported the alleged behavior to HR in a meeting “but no one followed up,” leaving her to feel “powerless.”

“Some of the men who work at SpaceX hug women without consent, stare at women while they work, and interpret every company-related social event as an opportunity to date (or hit on) women in the office,” Kosak wrote.

She said that coworkers messaged her on Instagram to ask her out and that she once received a 4 a.m. call from a coworker. She said a different coworker came over to her house and “insisted on touching me even when I repeatedly requested we stay professional.”

Kosak said in the essay that she reported “each incident of sexual harassment I experienced to HR” but “nothing was done.” She said that she was told a company training would be held, but that “matters of this nature were too private to openly discuss with the perpetrators.”

Kosak said in the essay that she attributes the work environment at SpaceX to Musk’s leadership.

“Elon Musk’s behavior bears a remarkable similarity to the behavior of a sadistic and abusive man who had previously been part of my life,” Kosak wrote, saying Musk makes promises, but continually “shifts the goalpost” and pushes people to “the brink of burnout.”

“Elon uses engineers as a resource to be mined rather than a team to be led,” Kosak said in the essay.

The engineer said that after repeatedly making reports to HR, she submitted her complaints to an anonymous Ethics and Compliance tipline, which she said she later realized was a Microsoft form that did not preserve her anonymity. Kosak said she then met with COO Gwynne Shotwell and Head of HR Brian Bjelde, who she said told her they had not been made aware of her complaints and asked for her to submit a list of proposed solutions.

Shotwell and Bjelde did not respond to a request for comment from Insider, but The Verge obtained an email that was sent out by Shotwell over the weekend, reiterating the company’s stance against harassment. The COO reportedly said the company plans to perform a third-party audit of its HR practices.

“We also know we can always do better,” the email reportedly said.

Kosak said her psychiatrist eventually recommended she take a step back from work due to “frequent panic attacks” and “heart palpitations.”

“As I took a week’s medical leave to recover, I received a frantic cadence of calls from HR,” she wrote. 

Kosak resigned in November and has since begun working at Apple, according to her LinkedIn page.

Kosak is not the first person to express concern regarding the work environment at Musk’s companies. Last year, a former SpaceX intern filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company, alleging her decision to report alleged sexual harassment to HR cost her the opportunity for a full-time job. The lawsuit has since been privately resolved and dismissed, The Verge reports.

Over the past four weeks, eight Tesla factory workers have sued Musk’s electric car company, alleging Tesla ignored sexual harassment.

The former SpaceX engineer’s essay also comes only a few months after engineers at Jeff Bezos’ space venture, Blue Origin, expressed similar concerns, alleging the company had a “toxic” and “sexist” work culture.

“The last I heard, new SpaceX interns would receive training on how to better report their harassment,” Kosak wrote in the last lines of her essay. “The harassers, on the other hand, have still not been held to account.”

Do you work at SpaceX or Blue Origin? Reach out to the reporter from a non-work email at gkay@insider.com

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Uber Eats makes its first-ever delivery to space – Japanese billionaire delivers canned beef and boiled mackerel to the International Space Station

Yusaku Maezawa with an ISS astronaut and an Uber Eats delivery
Yusaku Maezawa in the ISS pictured next to an astronaut and an Uber Eats delivery.

  • Uber Eats made its first delivery in space and became the first delivery service to send food to the ISS.
  • Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa gave ISS astronauts Uber Eats deliveries, such as canned beef.
  • Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said Maezawa did well, even though it took longer than 30 minutes to arrive.

Uber Eats completed its first delivery in space after Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa handed out food to astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS).

Maezawa, who previously bought tickets on a SpaceX rocket, blasted into space on Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a 12-day trip to the ISS.

After his nearly nine-hour rocket ride to the ISS, Maezawa on Saturday hand-delivered Japanese food via Uber Eats to astronauts currently stationed there, the company said in an emailed statement to Insider.

It’s now the first food delivery service to send food to the ISS, the company claimed in the statement.

The canned food, which was ready-to-eat, included a beef bowl cooked in a sweet sauce, boiled mackerel in miso, chicken with bamboo shoots, and braised pork, Uber Eats said.

Canned food delivered by Uber Eats
Canned food for astronauts, delivered by Uber Eats.

“One small handoff for Yusaku Maezawa, one giant delivery for Uber Eats!” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in the statement. “Maezawa gets a thumbs up on this delivery, even though it took a bit longer than the usual 30 minutes to arrive.” 

Maezawa told the Associated Press on Monday that reports on him spending $80 million on his trip were “pretty much” accurate.

Before he flew to the ISS, the fashion tycoon said on Twitter that he will give away money from space

Maezawa made headlines in 2018 when he bought all the seats on SpaceX’s first tourist flight around the moon scheduled for 2023.

He is currently worth $3.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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Elon Musk tweets that SpaceX will start program to pull carbon dioxide in atmosphere and use it as rocket fuel

SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk at a news conference
SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk reacts at a post-launch news conference to discuss the SpaceX Crew Dragon astronaut capsule in-flight abort test at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on January 19, 2020.

  • Elon Musk tweeted that SpaceX will be launching a new program. 
  • The program will remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it as rocket fuel.
  • The billionaire encouraged people to join and says that it “will also be important for Mars.”

Elon Musk tweeted Monday that SpaceX is starting a program to remove carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere and use it as rocket fuel. “Please join if interested,” Musk added.

He also tweeted that this program “will also be important for Mars.” 

The billionaire founder of SpaceX and electric car company Tesla was announced as TIME’s 2021 person of the year on Monday.

The Guardian reports that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket uses kerosene as fuel — which emits carbon dioxide, among other chemicals, into the atmosphere.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Musk previously announced XPrize Carbon Removal, which has a prize of $100 million for carbon removal technology. Carbon dioxide, released by the combustion of fossil fuels, is the primary greenhouse gas contributing to the climate crisis.

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Blue Origin launches 6 passengers to the edge of outer space, including ‘Good Morning America’ anchor Michael Strahan and the daughter of the first American to fly to space

Michael Strahan next to image of Blue Origin rocket launching into the sky
Co-anchor Michael Strahan and five other passengers to the edge of outer space on Saturday in its third successful human flight.

  • Blue Origin launched 6 passengers to the edge of space on the company’s New Shepard rocket.
  • TV celebrity Michael Strahan and the eldest daughter of the first American to fly to space were among the passengers. 
  • The New Shepard rocket took off from Launch Site One, situated on a parcel of land in West Texas owned by Bezos.

Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, launched ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Michael Strahan and five other passengers to the edge of outer space on Saturday in its third successful human flight.

Among the passengers making the suborbital flight was Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of the US astronaut Alan Shepard. The company’s New Shepard rocket is named after Shepard, the first American to fly to space and the fifth person to walk on the moon.

The four other passengers were paying customers: the space-industry executive and philanthropist Dylan Taylor, the investor Evan Dick, Bess Ventures founder Lane Bess, and the content creator Cameron Bess.

Lane and Cameron Bess were the first parent-child duo to fly in space, Blue Origin said.

The New Shepard rocket took off from Launch Site One, situated on a parcel of land in West Texas owned by Bezos. The six space tourists experienced a few minutes of weightlessness 62 miles above Earth, widely considered the edge of space, before floating back to Earth in a pressurized capsule that detaches from the rocket.

“And, capsule touchdown! Welcome back to Earth, crew of #NS19. Laura, Michael, Evan, Dylan, Cameron, and Lane,” Blue Origin tweeted as the passengers made their safe return. 

“What an amazing mission from Launch Site One. Congrats to all of Team Blue on executing and supporting today’s flight,” the company also tweeted. 

Blue Origin has not commented on the price of tickets for its latest launch. A seat on New Shepard for the company’s first human flight brought in $28 million in an auction in June.

When the latest passenger roster was announced, Shepard Churchley quipped in a Blue Origin Twitter video that “an original Shepard will fly on the New Shepard.”

Strahan, who was also a former NFL football star, said in a “GMA” clip posted on Twitter that he said yes “without hesitation” when Blue Origin approached him.

A previous flight carried the “Star Trek” actor William Shatner and three other passengers. The passengers on the company’s first human spaceflight consisted of Bezos, his brother, the 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen, a Dutch teen.

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will spend its first year looking for primordial galaxies, gold-forging explosions, and habitable planets

james webb space telescope artist illustration gold panels octagon on purple foil platform
An artist’s conception of the James Webb Space Telescope.

NASA is about to open a never-before-seen window into the cosmos. Starting next year, astronomers should be able to peer into the atmospheres of planets orbiting distant stars, analyze the aftermath of the universe’s most violent collisions, and look further back in time than ever before.

That’s because the James Webb Space Telescope — JWST, or simply “Webb,” for short — is folded up, full of fuel, and waiting to be loaded onto a rocket in French Guiana.

NASA’s last game-changing space observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990. It, too, was on a mission to document the 13.8-billion-year history of the universe.

Hubble is still observing the cosmos, and NASA hopes to keep using it for a few more years, possibly into the 2030s. But Hubble could only see so far, and Webb is designed to see even farther.

In collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency, NASA has spent decades and more than $10 billion building Webb, which is set to launch into space on December 22. While Webb was first conceived of in the 1990s and originally slated to cost $500 million, a redesign and delays both drove up its price tag and pushed back its launch date.

After launch, if all goes according to plan, Webb will spend six months unfolding and adjusting itself, falling into an orbit 1 million miles from Earth. Then it can begin rewriting cosmic history.

james webb space telescope lifted vertically enormous gold mirrors wrapped in purple foil inside white cleanroom
The James Webb Space Telescope is unpacked and lifted vertically in a cleanroom at Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, on October 15, 2021

The telescope’s main project is to investigate how galaxies formed and grew after the Big Bang — peering into the universe’s depths to capture images of the first galaxies ever formed. Its infrared cameras are so powerful and precise that they could spot a bumblebee 240,000 miles away — the distance between Earth and the moon.

Webb will also help astronomers investigate mysteries they hadn’t considered when NASA first designed the telescope.

“Webb has this broad power to reveal the unexpected. We can plan what we think we’re going to see, but at the end of the day, we know that nature will surprise us more often than not,” Klaus Pontoppidan, a Webb scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, said in a press briefing on November 18.

NASA expects the telescope to probe the secrets of the cosmos for at least a decade. Even the telescope’s first year in space is jam-packed, with nearly 400 investigations from thousands of scientists all over the world, Pontoppidan said.

From peering at Mars to investigating ancient galaxies, here are a few of the most exciting projects that Webb — the most powerful space telescope ever built — is expected to tackle in its first year: 

Light from the first galaxies is still traveling to Earth, and Webb may spot it

hubble ultra deep field image 10,000 galaxies pinpricks of light
The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is the deepest visible-light image of the cosmos. It includes nearly 10,000 galaxies.

As a telescope peers into the distance, it’s also looking back in time. That’s because it takes time for light to travel. When you look at the sun — please, don’t! — you’re seeing light that our star emitted eight minutes ago. When Hubble looks at distant galaxies, it’s seeing light from billions of years ago, as far back as 400 million years after the Big Bang.

“We have this 13.8-billion-year story — the universe — and we’re missing sort of a few key paragraphs in the very first chapter of the story,” Amber Straughn, a scientist on NASA’s Webb team, said in the November 18 briefing. “JWST was designed to help us find those first galaxies.”

Webb is expected to spot galaxies that formed when the universe was just 100 million years old.

It’s 100 times more powerful than Hubble. It’s also using infrared light, which has wavelengths that can cut through dust clouds that may have obscured Hubble’s view, which relied on visible light.

Webb should see deeper into the cosmos and detect galaxies — the first ones formed after the Big Bang — that are too distant and faint for Hubble to pick up.

Looking for gold forged by the universe’s most violent collisions

neutron star collision
A supercomputer simulation of a pair of neutron stars colliding, merging, and forming a black hole.

For the last six years, gravitational-wave detectors on Earth have been sensing ripples in space-time created by the most violent events in the cosmos: black holes and neutron stars crashing into one another.

Scientists think these collisions forged most of the universe’s heavy elements, like silver, gold, and platinum. Webb will try to confirm that by focusing on distant collisions of neutron stars — the dense cores of stars that have collapsed, ejected their outer layers, and died.

Webb will be able to analyze the entire spectrum of infrared light from those collisions. That will allow astronomers to indentify individual elements like gold or platinum in the explosion debris, based on their wavelengths of light.

This method, called spectroscopy, will help astronomers learn about other objects Webb studies, too.

“Spectra will be the bulk of the science,” Antonella Nota, a Webb scientist who leads the ESA office at the Space Telescope Science Institute, said in the briefing. “While an image, we say is worth 1,000 words, spectra for astronomers are just worth 1,000 images.”

Our first glimpse at the atmospheres of planets that could host life

An artist’s impression shows the planet K2-18b, its host star and an accompanying planet in this system. K2-18b is now the only super-Earth exoplanet known to host both water and temperatures that could support life. UCL researchers used archive data from 2016 and 2017 captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and developed open-source algorithms to analyze the starlight filtered through K2-18b’s atmosphere. The results revealed the molecular signature of water vapor, also indicating the presence of hydrogen and helium in the planet’s atmosphere.
An artist’s impression of the super-Earth exoplanet K2-18b.

When it’s not busy studying the most massive objects and ancient galaxies in the universe, Webb will search for less extreme environments, worlds where conditions could be just right to give rise to life.

Exoplanets — worlds orbiting other stars — were barely a field of study when NASA began designing Webb. Two decades later, astronomers have identified dozens of exoplanets that could be temperate enough for alien life. They’re not too cold, not too hot, just right for water — but only if they have hospitable atmospheres.

Webb will watch potentially habitable exoplanets pass in front of their stars, and analyze the spectra of starlight that shines through the planets’ atmospheres. That spectroscopy will indicate to scientists whether the air on other worlds contains compounds that could point to life, like carbon dioxide, methane, or water.

“This telescope is definitely our next big step in our search for potentially habitable planets,” Straughn said.

james webb space telescope gold octagon mirror in large white cleanroom
The James Webb Space Telescope in a Northrop Grumman cleanroom in Redondo Beach, California, on March 4, 2020.

These aren’t necessarily Earth-like planets. Stars like the sun are so big and bright that Webb wouldn’t be able to see the tiny Earth-like planets orbiting them. That’s a job for the next great space telescope. Instead, Webb will look at rock planets orbiting stars that are much smaller and dimmer.

Some of its first targets will be planets circling a small star, TRAPPIST-1, just 39 light-years away.

The star has seven rocky planets, three of them in its “Goldilocks zone,” meaning they’re just the right distance to have temperatures that would allow liquid water to exist on their surfaces.

trappist 1 seven earth size planets discovery nature 7
An artistic rendering of what it might look like on the surface of the planet TRAPPIST-1f.

Webb is also set to zoom in on uninhabitable, but fascinatingly extreme, planets. At least one of the planets on its roster is so close to its star that its surface is molten, and it may even rain lava there. Webb should be able to detect that lava rain.

The telescope will also examine every object in our solar system, starting with Mars and working its way outward to the icy objects beyond Pluto.

In those planets, stars, and galaxies, near and far, Webb is sure to uncover major surprises. 

“Webb will probably also reveal new questions for future generations of scientists to answer — some of whom may not even be born yet,” Pontoppidan said.

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The FAA is giving Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and other private spaceflight passengers official ‘astronaut wings’ before discontinuing the honor

split image richard branson smiling jeff bezos laughing in cowboy hat both wearing blue spacesuits
Richard Branson (left) and Jeff Bezos (right) both flew to the edge of space in July 2021.

Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, William Shatner, and 12 others will be given official “astronaut” wings by the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency announced on Friday. 

The FAA awards its Commercial Astronaut Wings to those who have launched at least 50 miles above the Earth’s surface on an FAA-approved spacecraft.   

The 15 individuals receiving the symbolic honor hail from a SpaceX crew, Blue Origin’s New Shepherd craft, and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, the FAA said in a statement

But this batch of individuals will be the last to hold the accolade, the FAA said. January 1 marks the end of the “wings” program. Space travelers who break the 50-mile barrier will simply have their names listed on an FAA website instead.

All in all, only 24 people will have received the FAA’s commercial astronaut wings.

The news was first reported by CNN.

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Scientists have developed a hi-tech sleeping bag that could stop astronauts’ eyeballs from squashing in space

Astronaut in space
A sleeping bag could stop astronauts’ eyeballs squashing in space, per a study reported by the BBC.

  • A new sleeping bag may stop astronauts’ eyeballs squashing in zero-gravity, per a study reported by the BBC.
  • The bags created a vacuum which sucked body fluids from the head towards the feet, the study found.
  • More than six months in space can cause astronauts’ eyeballs to flatten and optic nerves to swell.

Scientists have found a possible solution to astronauts getting squashed eyeballs in space — a high-tech sleeping bag that sucks fluid away from the brain.

Spending more than six months in zero-gravity can have a negative impact on astronauts’ vision, potentially leaving them with flattened eyeballs, swollen optic nerves, and bad eyesight, according to a 2011 study published in the journal the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Now, scientists led by by Dr. Benjamin Levines at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center have developed a sleeping bag that creates a vacuum to pull fluid away from the head towards the feet, relieving pressure on the brain and the eyeball, the BBC reported, citing a study published Thursday in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

Gravity on Earth means that fluid pressure that builds around the brain when lying down drains when we stand up. But researchers had found that, in the zero-gravity conditions of spaceflight, body fluids can accumulate in the head, putting pressure on the eyeballs, and causing a condition called spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome, per the BBC.

As part of the study, a dozen participants spent three days lying flat with eight hours in the sleeping bags and another three days lying flat without using the sleeping bags, the BBC reported.

The study found that the cone-shaped sleeping bags – which fit around the waist and have a solid outer-frame – stopped body fluids from changing the shape of the participants’ eyeballs, per the BBC.

“We don’t know how bad the effects might be on a longer flight, like a two-year Mars operation,” Levine told the BBC. “It would be a disaster if astronauts had such severe impairments that they couldn’t see what they’re doing and it compromised the mission.”

Levine told the BBC that he’s working on sending the device to the International Space Station (ISS) for astronauts to use.

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SpaceX launched a $214 million NASA satellite into orbit to study black holes and dead stars

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off on December 9, 2021 carrying NASA's Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off on December 9, 2021 carrying NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft.

  • NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) launched into space early on Thursday morning.
  • The IXPE was launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, NASA said in a statement.
  • It will study high-energy celestial objects such as black holes.

A NASA satellite designed to examine some of the most fascinating objects in the cosmos, including black holes, was successfully launched into orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, NASA said in a press statement.

The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) observatory is a spacecraft developed by NASA in collaboration with the Italian Space Agency. It carries three telescopes designed to measure the polarization of X-rays from high-energy celestial objects. These include black holes and the remnants of supernovas.

This means it will be able to probe the physics behind these mysterious objects.

“IXPE is going to show us the violent universe around us — such as exploding stars and the black holes at the center of galaxies — in ways we’ve never been able to see it,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, said in a statement.

The IXPE was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1 a.m. EST on Thursday, NASA said in its statement. CBS reports the IXPE cost $214 million.

SpaceX shared footage on Twitter of the IXPE separating from the Falcon 9 rocket, floating off into orbit

“It is an indescribable feeling to see something you’ve worked on for decades become real and launch into space,” Martin Weisskopf, IXPE’s principal investigator at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said in a statement.

Space.com reported that at a pre-launch press conference, Weisskopf said IXPE’s first target will be the Crab Nebula, which is the remnants of a dead star.

crab nebula green orange yellow web
The Crab Nebula as imaged by Hubble.

SpaceX has flown multiple missions for NASA, including two fully crewed astronaut missions to the International Space Station. 

NASA also awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract in April to help the agency return to the moon. The contract was legally challenged by Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin, but the US Federal Court of Claims ruled against Blue Origin in November.

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Jeff Bezos donates over $400 million to help save the planet he blasted off from just months ago

Jeff Bezos laughs wearing a cowboy hat
Jeff Bezos laughs as he speaks about his flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard into space during a press conference on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas.

  • Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund donated $443 million to 44 climate groups on Monday.
  • This is part of his commitment to spend $10 billion by 2030 to fight the climate crisis.
  • Bezos recently used his fortune to send himself to space and has been criticized for focusing too much on space travel.

Jeff Bezos left his fellow humans on Earth for about 15 minutes in July when he shot himself up to the edge of space. But that doesn’t mean he’s leaving his home planet behind.

On Monday, the founder of Amazon announced a $443 million donation to organizations focused on climate justice, nature conservation, and tracking climate goals. Bezos’ organization, the Bezos Earth Fund, wrote in a press release that it awarded 44 grants to organizations that fit that criteria, including $140 million to President Joe Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which helps fight climate change in disadvantaged communities, along with $51 million to support land restoration in the US and Africa.

These grants are part of Bezos’ $10 billion commitment to his Earth Fund to fight climate change — funds of which he promised would be fully disbursed by 2030.

“The goal of the Bezos Earth Fund is to support change agents who are seizing the challenges that this decisive decade presents,” Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund, said in a statement. “Through these grants, we are advancing climate justice and the protection of nature, two areas that demand stronger action.”

As the world’s second richest person, Bezos has been using his money to not only fight the climate crisis — his fund gave $791 million to 16 climate organizations last year — but to venture into space. On July 20, Bezos boarded a rocket made by his aerospace company Blue Origin and spent about three minutes in outer space — a form of travel, and way of life, he anticipates will become the norm.

“Over centuries, many people will be born in space. It will be their first home,” Bezos said during a recent conference. “They will be born on these colonies, live on these colonies. Then, they’ll visit Earth the way you would visit, you know, Yellowstone National Park.” 

After his space flight, Bezos also expressed the need to preserve the Earth and move the “polluting industry to space,” adding that his quick trip “reinforces my commitment to climate change, to the environment.”

“We live on this beautiful planet. You can’t imagine how thin the atmosphere is when you see it from space,” Bezos said in July. “We live in it, and it looks so big. It feels like, you know, this atmosphere is huge and we can disregard it and treat it poorly. When you get up there and you see it, you see how tiny it is and how fragile it is.”

The billionaire has been criticized for focusing too much on outer space when there are many pressing problems down here on Earth. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for example, recently criticized Bezos for his fixation on space travel while managing to avoid paying his fair share in taxes.

“The richest guy on Earth can launch himself into space while over half the country lives paycheck to paycheck, nearly 43 million are saddled with student debt, and child care costs force millions out of work,” Warren tweeted. “He can afford to pitch in so everyone else gets a chance.” 

But Bezos responded to claims he doesn’t focus enough on pressing issues on Earth, saying at the same conference that those critics miss the fact that “we need to do both, and that the two things are deeply connected.”

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Elon Musk says SpaceX is building a launch pad for Starship orbital flights on Florida’s eastern coastline

spacex starship sn15 landing success happy elon musk
SpaceX’s Starship and CEO Elon Musk.

  • SpaceX has started building a launch pad in Florida for Starship rocket flights, Elon Musk said.
  • It will have a better launch tower and ground systems than SpaceX’s launch pad at Starbase, per Musk.
  • SpaceX has leased Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center from NASA since 2014.

Elon Musk said on Friday that SpaceX is constructing a launch pad for its Starship spaceship in Florida ahead of the rocket’s first orbital flight.

“Construction of Starship orbital launch pad at the Cape has begun,” Musk tweeted.

He confirmed later in the Twitter comments that the pad was located at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on the east coast of Florida. 

Musk said in the tweet that the Florida launch pad will have a better launch tower and improved ground systems compared to the facilities at Starbase, SpaceX’s planned city in South Texas where the company has tested out its Starship rocket prototypes.

SpaceX first signed an agreement with NASA in 2014 to use Launch Complex 39A for 20 years. Concrete foundations for the launch pad were put down in 2019, but nothing has happened since then, CNBC reported.

NASA told CNBC in a statement that SpaceX is “within the rights of their lease agreement to make launch infrastructure improvements within the boundaries of the pad.”

SpaceX only has approval to build the launch pad, and will need further authorization for launches and landings, NASA told CNBC, adding that it’s not providing funding for the pad.

SpaceX and NASA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment made by Insider outside of operating hours. 

SpaceX is planning to launch its Starship spaceship into orbit for the first time in early 2022, but Musk warned during a video call with members of the National Academy of Sciences that the initial flight might not succeed.

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