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The Winklevoss Twins are Using Bitcoin to Pay for a Trip to Space

Be afraid, aliens. He's 6'5", 220, and there's two of him.


Get ready for a sentence that would not have made sense to you even one year ago: Wonder Twin entrepreneurs Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are officially going to space via the Virgin Galactic program, and they’re paying the entire exorbitant $250,000 fee in bitcoin. In other news, we live in the future and it is ridiculous.

Tyler made the announcement on his Twitter account this morning:

Sorry, we need to talk for a second about how hilarious it is that Tyler’s Twitter handle is @tylerwinklevoss, but Cameron’s is just @winklevoss. Guess he got there first, huh?

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, is also excited about the Winklevosses’ involvement (and not just because he’s getting their bitcoins):

To be fair, Branson, NASA is already sort of doing that experiment with their identical twin astronaut, Scott Kelly. But I guess we’ve never sent both twins in an identical set into space before, so that should be interesting.

Not that there aren’t other reasons to send the Winklevosses into space — though no one would blame them if their sole rationale behind the decision was “space is awesome and we want to go to there,” of course. Tyler notes on the Winklevoss Capital website that the money they give to Virgin Galactic will help to strengthen and legitimize the private space industry, which will hopefully pave the way for future technological innovation. He writes:

Today, we see an independent technological infrastructure being built that allows these courageous entrepreneurs to risk their greatest human resources – their time, intelligence, extraordinary energy, and hard-earned capital – in modern attempts to achieve the unachievable, unconstrained by the technologies and boundaries of generations past.

It is in this vein that Cameron and I contemplate our tickets into space – as seed capital supporting a new technology that may forever change the way we travel, purchased with a new technology that may forever change the way we transact.

The decision to pay using bitcoin also reflects this desire to strengthen emerging technologies. Tyler believes that the Bitcoin network — and he makes a clear distinction between the actual units of currency themselves and the idea of a “decentralized financial protocol,” as clearly the latter is more interesting — has a lot of potential, citing the speed and ease with which financial aid and charitable donations “that would normally incur transaction costs and take days to arrive” can be sent and received.  Which couldn’t come at a better time for the cryptocurrency, what with all the attention that Mt. Gox’s recent 850,000 bitcoin loss (now we’re talking about the actual units) has been getting in the press.

Then again, it’s no secret that the Winklevoss twins are pretty big fans of Bitcoin in general. They once raised $1.5 million for in funding for the payment processor BitInstant; April 2013, they claimed to own about 1% of all the bitcoin that had been in existence up to that point; and their most recent project is a price index that tracks the growth of Bitcoin, called the Winkdex. Wow, you guys are good at money and tech and all, but you might need some help on the “naming things” front. You should convince Branson to let you name a Space Shuttle. The SpaceWink, perhaps?

(via Joseph Weisenthal on Twitter, image via The Social Network)

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