After years battling Silicon Valley skeptics and Wall Street adversaries, Michael Dell has pulled off the deal of the century, borrowing and flipping his way to a $50 billion fortune. His biggest ambitions lie ahead—and they have nothing to do with space.

by Antoine Gara

Sitting at the headquarters of his Austin, Texas–based philanthropic foundation, personal computer pioneer Michael Dell is acutely aware that on that very morning in that very state, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has rocketed himself into space in his Blue Origin space shuttle as millions of viewers around the world looked on. “I’m perfectly happy staying on planet Earth,” Dell, shrugging, says with a chuckle.

The previous week, fellow ten-figure mogul Richard Branson had kicked off the billionaire space race. Some people saw innovation and ambition. Others saw ego and hubris. Dell saw . . . opportunity.

“We’re selling to a lot of the emerging space…

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