It began with a slickly produced video back on 5 May that was only really memorable for the quite conspicuous role that Jeff Bezos was suddenly playing in the promotional material for New Shephard, the suborbital vehicle built by his company, Blue Origin.
This was a Bezos we’d rarely seen: looking fit and a just little toned, at the wheel of a 4×4 as it kicked up a cloud of dust, speeding across the desert to the place where the New Shephard capsule had just landed. Bezos looked like he was about to take the lead role in the new Indiana Jones movie – Raiders of the Tax Loopholes, perhaps – as he walked over to the capsule. “Let’s get in there,” he’s heard saying as he climbs into the capsule before a crowd whoops with excitement. The implied meaning at the time was that Bezos would greet the first passengers to ride into space in a Blue Origin vehicle.