Bezos, Branson and Musk: Who’s Winning the Space Tourism Race?


Bezos, Branson and Musk have invested billions of dollars in their space startups, each promising to transport paying customers to space

Three billionaire entrepreneurs – Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson – each compete to usher in a new era of private commercial space travel.

Here’s how their rival companies stack up against each other in the race to open up space travel.

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TICKETS

Bezos, Branson and Musk have invested billions of dollars in their space startups, each promising to transport paying customers to space – and it will cost a pretty dime to be a part of it.

Branson’s Virgin Galactic is said to have over 600 ticket reservations already, priced at around $ 250,000. He plans to start full commercial service in 2022 and eventually hopes to reduce the ticket price to around $ 40,000.

Read also | Sir Richard Branson will reach space ahead of Jeff Bezos on July 11

Reuters reported in 2018 that Bezos’ Blue Origin planned to charge passengers at least $ 200,000 for the ride, based on an assessment of Branson’s rival plans and other considerations, though his thinking may have changed. Blue has not disclosed its long-term pricing plans.

An as-yet-unidentified person has secured one of the seats on Blue’s first suborbital mission, slated for July 20, with a bid of $ 28 million.

Musk’s SpaceX has already taken a crew to the International Space Station, and the company plans to send a fully civilian crew into orbit in September. Musk also said SpaceX will fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa around the moon with its next Starship rocket in 2023.

DESIGN

Virgin Galactic’s reusable Space Ship Two system will see its VSS Unity spaceplane lifted aloft by a jumbo jet called VMS Eve before going its separate ways.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket and capsule combo shoots into suborbital space before separating. The rocket section returns to the launch pad, the pressurized capsule falls back to earth under parachutes. It has six observation windows – the largest ever used in space.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule sits atop a reusable Falcon rocket that it uses to reach space.

CREW AND PASSENGERS

Virgin Galactic’s space plane can carry six passengers: two crew and four passengers.

The Blue Origin boat can take six passengers and flies autonomously.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule is capable of carrying up to seven people.

ITINERARY

Virgin Galactic offers a flight time of approximately 90 minutes from takeoff to landing, including several minutes of weightlessness.

The suborbital flight of the Blue Origin capsule takes place approximately 10 minutes after separation. Again, those on board experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see the curvature of the planet before returning to Earth.

SpaceX missions are expected to last three to four days, from launch to landing.

FUNDING

Typical of Branson businesses, Virgin Galactic is publicly funded. Its shares peaked at nearly $ 60 after FAA approval in June 2021.

Blue Origin is privately held, with Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos previously indicating that he would sell around $ 1 billion in Amazon stock per year to fund the business.

SpaceX is also privately owned and has raised billions of dollars in successive funding rounds. The main investors are Alphabet and Fidelity. Musk says the fees charged for SpaceX charter flights will go towards missions to the moon and eventually to Mars.


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