- Title: Branson, Bezos or Musk: who will win the race to space?
- Date: 9th July 2021
- Summary: FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES (JULY 7, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MARCO CACERES, SENIOR SPACE ANALYST FOR CONSULTING FIRM TEAL GROUP, WORKING AT HIS DESK (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARCO CACERES, SENIOR SPACE ANALYST FOR CONSULTING FIRM TEAL GROUP, SAYING: "Branson has been trying to do this for the last 10 years and he's had numerous delays, technical delays. He had one accident back in 2014 in which one of the pilots was killed. And so I think, he's 70 years old, I think he wants to see his venture succeed and I think by going up himself, it's a bit of a publicity stunt to some degree, and probably the same thing with Bezos. But I think they're both committed to what they're doing. I think they're serious. And look, each one of them has personalities that are well known. I believe Branson is a little more colorful than Bezos, but I think it's more of a personal race, more than a race of ventures. Both of them have succeeded in many ways. Both of them are far behind SpaceX. But, yeah, I think it's more of a publicity thing." CACERES SEEN THROUGH CAMERA VIEWFINDER (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARCO CACERES, SENIOR SPACE ANALYST FOR CONSULTING FIRM TEAL GROUP, SAYING: "In many ways, Musk has already won it because he has launched countless missions over the last five to six years. I believe in the last few years he's been launching more than 20 missions to Earth orbit, not lower, not sub-orbit. And I believe he's planning to launch up to 40 missions just this year alone. So in terms of the race to Earth orbit, by far he's the winner. He kind of skipped over the sub orbit race because the orbital segment of the industry, of the market, is much more lucrative. Between the remaining two, you know, it's hard to say, but in some ways, Branson has already won because he has already launched suborbital missions that are piloted and Mr. Bezos has not. This will be the first mission in which he sends humans to suborbit."
- Embargoed: 23rd July 2021 00:48
- Keywords: Blue Origin Elon Musk Jeff Bezos Richard Branson SpaceX Virgin Galactic private commercial space travel race space
- Location: FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA, MOJAVE AND HAWTHORNE, CALIFORNIA, WASHINGTON, DC, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO, CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA AND NEAR VAN HORN, TEXAS, UNITED STATES/ INTERNET/IN SPACE
- City: FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA, MOJAVE AND HAWTHORNE, CALIFORNIA, WASHINGTON, DC, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO, CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA AND NEAR VAN HORN, TEXAS, UNITED STATES/ INTERNET/IN SPACE
- Country: USA
- Topics: Science,Space Exploration,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA003EL4BEX3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Three billionaire entrepreneurs - Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson - are each vying to usher in a new era of private commercial space travel.
Branson's Virgin Galactic is scheduled to send the company's passenger rocket plane, the VSS Unity, on its first fully crewed test flight to the edge of space on Sunday (July 11), with the British billionaire founder along for the ride with five other individuals.
If successful, the flight will also give Branson bragging rights to besting Bezos in the billionaire space race. Bezos is slated to fly aboard his company Blue Origin's suborbital rocket ship the New Shepard later this month.
But Marco Caceres, a senior space analyst for the Virginia-based consulting firm Teal Group, said both the Branson and Bezos ride-alongs were each "a bit of a publicity stunt."
Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and Musk's SpaceX, are competing head-to-head but SpaceX, Caceres said, is way out ahead, with ambitions far beyond the few minutes of weightlessness the other two are offering.
"Ultimately, what they want to do is launch people to Mars," he said. "That is the most ambitious of all these three ventures. The other two are seeking to focus on space tourism, taking passengers to low earth orbit for a few minutes of microgravity time and then taking them back to Earth. So much less ambitious."
SpaceX has already sent numerous cargo payloads and astronauts to the International Space Station and plans to send its first all-civilian crew into orbit in September.
Although Branson's Sunday flight is seen as a potential milestone in helping transform citizen rocket travel into a mainstream commercial venture, spaceflight remains an inherently hazardous endeavor.
An earlier prototype of the Virgin Galactic rocket plane crashed during a test flight over California's Mojave Desert in 2014, killing one pilot and seriously injuring another.
While a failure on Branson's part could set back the space tourism industry, success could accelerate it, Caceres said.
"There's plenty of multimillionaires in the world that would like to go up on an adventure, so long as they see that it's relatively safe."
(Production: Kevin Fogarty, Jane Ross)
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