- Title: Branson, Bezos or Musk: who will win the race to space?
- Date: 9th July 2021
- Summary: BERLIN, GERMANY (FILE - DECEMBER 1, 2020) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF SPACEX FOUNDER ELON MUSK POSING AND JOKING IN FRONT OF "SPACE X" MODEL WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (MAY 9, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF BLUE ORIGIN FOUNDER JEFF BEZOS UNVEILING LUNAR LANDER MOCKUP
- 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: LVA002EL4BEX3
- 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)
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None