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Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos: The Men Behind The Private Space Race

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Who Is Elon Musk?

In this pandemic situation, Elon Musk earned more than $150 billion in 2020, and on 7th January 2021, he became the world’s richest man.

Elon Musk was born on 28 June 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa. His parents were divorced and he mostly lived with his father. His father was an engineer and his mother was a nutritionist, she was natively from Canada. He attended grade school at Pretoria and he was subjected to jokes at school as he was fond of reading books and was nerdy. He was also the youngest and smallest kid in the class. He was fond of comics too.

elon musk
Elon Musk got his first computer at age 10 and learned to code at the age of 12.

Musk was so thoughtful as a kid that his parents and doctor thought he was deaf. Then, his mother Maye Musk noticed that it was his way of daydreaming.

At the age of 10, he was given his first computer and he learned to code and at the age of 12, he coded a computer game that he sold for $500.

In 1989, he went to Canada, and then he studied at Pennsylvania University in the USA. He was mostly influenced by the internet, renewable energy, and space travel. In 1995, he founded a company Zip2 with his brother, which was basically a telephone directory much like yellow pages and this company was sold off at a high price.

Then, he founded a financial service company named which merged with another company in 2000 to form PayPal. In 2001, he became the CEO and the chairman of Paypal after which it was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion.

He invested more than $100 million to start a company named SpaceX. The main objective of this company is to colonize Mars. In 2020, SpaceX became the first private company to send a person to Space.

By 2025, SpaceX plans are to send the first human being to Mars. The rockets which Spacex has are Falcon 1, 9, and Heavy and are named after the Millennium Falcon from star wars. Falcon 9 and heavy rockets both are 70 meters high. Falcon 9 can lift to 22,800 kilograms in weight and falcon heavy up to 64000 kilograms. Falcon 9 has a mass of 505806 kg and Falcon heavy of 1.421 million kg. Other than this there are many like a starship, falcon 1e, grasshopper, falcon 9v1, etc. Starship was made for the purpose that it can carry up to hundred people to mars and it was made in September 2019.

Due to his vision and ideas, he is also referred to as the real-life Tony Stark. He believes that it is not necessary to have a college degree to make a good career.

Who Is Richard Branson?

Richard Branson was born on July 18, 1950, to Edward James Branson and Eve Branson. His father worked as a barrister and his mother was a flight attendant. He suffered from dyslexia and faced many difficulties during his schooling.

At 16, he dropped out to start a youth culture magazine known as Student. The first run of fifty thousand copies was set for free and the income was earned through advertising.

In 1969, Richard had the plan for starting a mail record company called Virgin to help fund his magazine.

The company performed well enough for him to expand his business. So he opened a record shop on Oxford street. In 1972, he built a recording studio in Oxfordshire.

In 1972, when Richard Branson was 22 years old, Simon Draper, Nik Powell, and Tom Newman founded Virgin Records, it was originally launched as an independent record label. It grew worldwide and gained popularity and success over time. In 1992, Virgin Records was sold to EMI. Then, EMI was taken over by Universal Music Group(UMG).

In 2021 it was announced that Virgin records will be rebranded as Virgin Music Label and Artist Services. In 1993, he founded the station Virgin Radio. In 1996, he started a record company that was signed with Powderfinger and Tom Jones.

He is also known for sporting events like Virgin Atlantic Challenger, etc.

In 2012, he and Burt Rutan founded the spaceship company for various purposes like building space ships, testing them, manufacturing spaceships, designing spaceships, and selling them.

In 2019, he was on the World Billionaires list with 2.5 billion dollars and he also owns two private islands.

On 11th July, Branson did the space tour on his own spacecraft (VSS Unity) and beat Jeff Bezos by nine days. VSS Unity looks like three airplanes are attached. It consists of a custom-built carrier aircraft and white knight two, it was the world’s first spaceship which was private and was built for space tourism. It went above the Karman line and went 86 km but according to Europe, space starts from 100 km up at the internationally recognized Karman line. It took 90 minutes and five days of preparation. It cost 1.5 crores approx, and there were 6 astronauts and two crew members.

In 2004, he had an idea to build a spacecraft and that in 2007 space tourism will be possible. He tried in 2014 but the flight crashed leading to the death of the crew.

Who Is Jeff Bezos?

Jeff Bezos was born on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico to Jacklyn Gise Jorgensen and Ted Jorgensen.

But after a year of marriage, they separated and Ted took responsibility for young Jeff. From a very young age, he started displaying technological proficiencies and scientific interest.

He was always preoccupied with inventing different things like a solar cooker, a robot, an eclectic alarm, and a hovercraft(it’s a vehicle that travels over land or water on a cushion provided by a downward blast). He has a sharp mind and was considered a brilliant and bright student at the school.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos had a proficiency for technology from a young age

He graduated in 1986 from Princeton with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering. His first job was with Fitel, a telecom company. He worked there for two years. Then he worked at Bankers Trust and D.E Shaw, an investment management firm on Wall Street.

In 1994, he quit his job at D.E to start Amazon. Jeff started this from his garage and his first employee was Shel Kaphan on 5 July 1994 in Washington, US.

He started Amazon as an online store and he used to pack his orders himself and deliver them to post offices. In two months, sales reached $20,000 a week and it grew faster than Bezos and his team expected to. In 1997, Amazon went public. As there was progress, it expanded to sell different things like electronics, software, video games, furniture, toys, etc.

In 1995, the sale was $510000. In 2011 it increased to $ 17 billion. In 2016, he made a cameo in the film ‘Star Trek Beyond’.

In 2018, he was listed on Forbes in the list of the World’s billionaires. In 2000 he founded Blue Origin to make space tourism possible. In 2017, he invited reporters to visit his headquarters and stated that he will see about $1 billion in Amazon stock annually to fund Blue Origin and he also described that humans will not only visit space but colonize it.

A few years later he revealed that the company was conducting test flights of its New Shepard rocket that would take tourists in a few minutes. In 2019, NASA announced that Blue Origin was among 13 companies that were chosen for collaboration on 19 technology-based projects for reaching the moon and mars.

The team of Blue Origin is developing a safe precise landing system for the moon as well as engine nozzles for rockets with liquid propellant( it is a liquid that is combustibly fed to the combustion of a rocket engine).

On 20th July 2021, Jeff Bezos went to space with Mark Bezos and Wally Funk and there wasn’t any need for staff as it was completely automatic. The New Shepard rocket took vertical take-off. It went to 100 km of height which is an internally recognized space boundary. It took just ten minutes. The landing was a capsule landing vertically with three parachutes. This rocket requires a day’s preparation and the next flight is scheduled for this year September.

Impact On Environment

During this tour, carbon emissions really impact the environment as it depletes the ozone layer. Space launchers said that it also injects particles into the stratosphere which absorb heat and reflect solar energy, heating the stratosphere and cooling the surface.

Blue Origin Rocket did not impact the environment much because it was powered by a mix of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Due to this reason the propellants were much cleaner than conventional rocket fuel.

Branson Vss Unity Rocket uses a mix of solid and liquid propellants and Elon Musk rocket uses liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene , RP1. The rocket releases a lot of carbon dioxide into the air when burned. The SpaceX rocket is harmful for the environment.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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