Branson, Musk and Bezos Intensify Commercial Space Flight Race

The battle between three high-profile billionaires to make commercial space flight viable has intensified.

    2021/07/05

NSFW    JORNADA DEL MUERTO DESERT, NEW MEXICO — The battle between three high-profile billionaires to make commercial space flight viable has intensified after Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic secured a licence from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to fly passengers on spaceflights, according to CNBC.


CNBC reports Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft Unity can hold up to six passengers, plus two pilots, and already has around 600 reservations for future flights, sold at between $200,000 and $250,000. It has three more tests planned before completing development. Officially the second of those will fly founder Richard Branson into space, but according to a leak reported by space blog Parabolic Arc, Branson could be a passenger on the first test, which would mean him getting to space just over two weeks in advance of Blue Origin founder, Jeff Bezos.


Bezos’ company will fly 62 miles or 100 kilometers up into space, according to the BBC. That’s beyond the internationally recognised ‘Karman line’ for space and clear of Virgin Galactic’s recent test which flew up 55 miles or 89 kilometers. Bezos, his brother Mark and an auction winner who paid $28 million for their seat plan to fly on July 20. Blue Origin’s New Shepard Crew capsule can hold six passengers, according to the company’s website.


The third billionaire-fronted company involved in a potential commercial space race is Elon Musk’s SpaceX. SpaceX has already worked with NASA to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, but is renting out its Dragon capsule for its first private space flight this autumn, with plans to orbit Earth for three days. SpaceX’s Dragon capsule has the largest capacity of the three, capable of carrying up to seven passengers, according to the company’s website. It is the first private spacecraft to take humans to the space station.

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