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Why Bill Gates won't join the billionaire space race

The Microsoft co-founder's one hope for 2022 is to eradicate polio.

Evan Vucci/PoolAFP via Getty Images

Don't expect to see Bill Gates joining his fellow billionaires in the space race, whether by establishing a space-focused company, or by heading there himself. Elon Musk is CEO and founder of SpaceX; Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos briefly rocketed to the edge of space on an, uh, "dong rocket;" and Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson beat Bezos there by nine days. But Gates recently told CNN he's more concerned about working to eradicate disease here on Earth, than reach for the stars.

"The space race, a lot of that is a commercial market," Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told the network's Becky Anderson last week. "Having great internet connections throughout Africa is a good thing. Using observation satellites to see what's going on with agriculture and climate change. So that's not philanthropically motivated altogether.

"Until we can get rid of malaria and tuberculosis, and all these diseases that are so terrible in poor countries, that's going to be my total focus," he said.

Another disease has been in his sights for a long time now: polio. Gates told CNN if he had one single hope for 2022, it would be to eradicate that insidious disease.

"That's a big, important cause to me," he said. "So, if Afghanistan can stay stable, it looks like we'll finally get wild polio down to zero. And we've been working on that for over 20 years."