+John Holden Who decides what is useless? You? There are many who believe that space exploration is a complete waste of money because there are hungry mouths to feed down here. Do you place yourself in that category, or is it just Branson that you don't like?
So far as starvation is concerned, exploitation of near-space has fed millions, as satellite-borne weather prediction and advanced communications have improved crop yields worldwide. So, if Branson wants to spend some of his money on research, rather than yet-another yacht or mansion ... I'm all for it.
Research pays off. Oh sure, you cannot predict when a given line of inquiry will return dividends, if ever. We only know that, on average ... we get back a Hell of a lot more than we put in, regardless of the ego size of the person footing the bill.
And I wish this post wasn't a joke. There's much to discover beneath our feet.