What happens when three companies and three visionaries battle it out in the race to revolutionize space travel? We’re about to find out. That’s exactly what is happening with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson. All three of the tycoons run private space outfits on top of their day jobs.
So how are each of their companies doing?
Let’s start with Elon Musk and SpaceX, which he founded in 2002. For years, SpaceX has been taking trips to deliver satellites and make resupply missions to the International Space Station. Now, the company has its sights set on bringing down the cost of spaceflight with reusable rockets.
While that sounds admirable, things haven’t always been smoothing sailing for SpaceX. It has faced two rocket explosions since July 2015. But there have also been major wins, like this March, when the company successfully launched a used rocket that carried a satellite into orbit—and landed it safely for the second time.
To date, the company has successfully executed more than 30 space missions and has major deals with NASA. SpaceX also holds the record for the farthest space venture, reaching about 22,000 miles from Earth. Plans don’t stop there. In February, the company released a statement saying that it will fly two space tourists to the moon sometime in 2018.
As for Musk? His dream is “to die on Mars.” Of course, he has one major caveat: “just not on impact.”
Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin two years before Musk launched his company. Like SpaceX, the company hopes to drive down the cost of space travel by recycling rockets. At the moment, however, Bezos has his sights set on conducting suborbital flights for tourists.
Like SpaceX, Blue Origin has launched and landed the same rocket—on five different occasions. But these flights only traveled about 60 miles from Earth, meaning that the missions completed by SpaceX have been significantly more difficult.
Still, it’s full-speed ahead for the company, who hopes to start space tourism later this year.
The last to join the group was Richard Branson and his company, Virgin Galactic. After revolutionizing the airline industry, Branson has set his sights on taking tourists to space. The company wants to launch a reusable space plane—similar to an airplane, but much faster and more powerful.
The plan is for the plane to travel 10 miles above Earth, release a spaceship with passengers, and carrying them about 60 miles away from Earth before returning. That little ride will cost you $250,000 a pop—and tickets have already started selling. Celebrities like Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher could be among the first passengers.
Unfortunately, Branson is a little behind the curve. The company is yet to launch a space flight that has gotten further than 13 miles from Earth. Still, the Virgin CEO is not backing down.
“By the end of this century, I hope that hundreds of thousands of people will have the chance to become astronauts,” Branson said.
Source: Business Insider, Mashable