Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule
Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk, aka the ‘NewSpace’ set, all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US defeated the Soviet Union in the space race, and there’s no question how much it would mean for each of them to win the ‘new space race’.
Amazon founder Bezos appeared to be the first of the three to fly to space after announcing plans to launch on July 20 aboard the New Shepard spacecraft from his space company Blue Origin.
The billionaire tycoon will travel with his younger brother Mark, a $28 million charity auction winner and trailblazing female astronaut Wally Funk, 82.
However, Branson has now announced that he plans to make a suborbital flight nine days ahead of Bezos and his brother. He revealed on Twitter that he plans to be Astronaut 001 on Virgin Galactic’s July 11 test flight.
Although Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, has said he wants to go into space, and even “die on Mars,” he hasn’t said when he could orbit Earth.
SpaceX appears to be leading the wider space race of billionaires with numerous launches bringing NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 2021.
On February 6, 2018, SpaceX sent a rocket to Mars orbit, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached.
Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule
NASA has already selected two astronauts to be aboard the first manned Dragon mission.
SpaceX has also begun sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network.
Musk hopes this will spawn an interconnected web of satellites around Earth that will beam free internet to people around the world.
Branson and Virgin Galactic take a different approach to conquer space. It has repeatedly and successfully conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity spaceplane.
The former took place in December 2018 and the latter on May 22, with the flight accelerating to over 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7).
More than 600 affluent clients, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips.
Branson has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket company SpaceX.
Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic vessel
SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one on the side and one above the head.
The spaceship is 60 ft long with a 90-inch diameter cabin, giving the astronauts maximum space to float in weightlessness.
It climbs to 50,000 feet before the rocket motor ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier, White Knight II, once it has passed the 50-mile mark.
Passengers become “astronauts” when they reach the Karman line, the limit of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The spacecraft will then make a suborbital journey with about six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight taking about 1.5 hours.
Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he funds Blue Origin with approximately $1 billion (£720 million) worth of Amazon stock annually.
The system consists of a pressurized crew pod atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster missile.
Bezos is one of the richest men in the world and Blue Origin has successfully flown the New Shepard rocket 15 times.
At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometers), just above the official space threshold, and landed vertically seven minutes after launch.