[Yesterday] at its Texas launch facility, Blue Origin performed its most critical test to date. It performed a live separation test of its crew capsule from the rocket booster and everything performed as expected. The crew capsule fired its escape motor at the right time, sending the capsule higher than it ever has gone before. This successful test is a huge milestone for Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, which previously stated that if the test went well it could put the rocket company in position to become operational by the end of the year.
The New Shepard is designed to autonomously fly six passengers more than 62 miles (100 km) above Earth into suborbital space, high enough to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see the curvature of the planet before the pressurized capsule returns to earth under parachutes.
A self-taught rocket enthusiast, who believes the Earth is flat, has launched himself about 570 metres (1870 feet) into the air in his homemade rocket, before a hard landing that left him slightly bruised. Mad’ Mike Hughes hopes to prove that Earth is shaped “like a Frisbee.”
And here, beneath the aspirational jargon, is a nugget of truth: WeWork is in the personal-fulfillment business. Because it’s offering a service that can be provided by anyone who can wrangle together a few desks and a French press, the product it’s actually selling is the contact high of being part of something that feels revolutionary. WeWork is promoting a mythology for those in the brave new gig economy: You, precarious worker who will never have a pension, are not a simple cog in a machine. You are an artist, the ceo of your own company, and the face of a dynamic personal brand. Your work is not merely labour, for which you deserve decent pay and security, but an extension of your personality. You’re doing what you love and paying $500 per month for the desk from which to do it.
During my final week at WeWork, the building held a party. All six floors were crowded with tenants and guests eagerly drinking WeWork margaritas and awkwardly swaying to Drake. A young, blond exec cut the music for a moment to stand up on a riser and say how much she loved fulfilling the company’s mission. “This is more like a bar or a club than a workspace,” said the local member of provincial parliament, taking in the scene. Entrepreneurial caterers handed out business cards along with their miniature cups of artisanal pho. This party was work, of course, just like work was always a party. I ate a plate of duck-ragù pasta served on a pillow of cauliflower foam, drank a craft beer called Food Truck, and felt an inexplicable and totally disproportionate sense of despair.
The next morning, my last at WeWork, the building felt collectively hungover. I wandered in at 10:30 and found the place nearly empty, the desks still pushed to the edges of the office. I drank my citrus water and listlessly checked my email. A member of the cleaning staff— a young Spanish-speaking woman with a tight ponytail— was one of the few people actually working. She moved quietly, picking up the dirty mugs that people had left lying about and stacking them into the dishwasher. Her shirt was emblazoned with the company slogan: Do What You Love.
Mike Hughes is a limo driver and self-taught rocket scientist. On Feb. 3, he plans to launch himself into the stratosphere in a rocket built in his garage. His ultimate goal is to get to outer space and prove that Earth is flat. This will be his third attempt.