For years, some of the world’s richest entrepreneurs have been investing in space exploration, hoping to become industry leaders in the growing commercial market and what it is set to achieve. With the space industry set to be worth $1 trillion by 2040, it’s no surprise that some of the world’s most successful businessmen want to be in on the action.
Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson; some of the richest men on the planet, have been investing in commercial space exploration through their companies Blue Origin, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. But which of these billionaires is leading the way and who will be the first to crack the market?
Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 and was the first to hit the market. Blue Origin is an American privately funded aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company who are developing a variety of technologies, with a focus on rocket-powered vertical take-off and vertical landing.
With the simple notion of this company being “launch, land, repeat” Bezos expects to revolutionize space travel in the same way he revolutionised the retail market with leading global business Amazon, which made it effortless for consumers to shop online.'
Musk follows close behind with SpaceX - founded in 2002. SpaceX's achievements include the first privately funded liquid-propellant rocket to reach orbit in 2008 as well as being the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft in 2010.
The next company playing catch up is Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, founded in 2004, who are currently developing commercial space crafts with the aim of providing space travel for tourism and space science missions.
Over the last 19 years, these companies have reached monumental achievements. In more recent years, they have made large leaps towards their goals and in 2019 - Branson revealed that Virgin Galactic plans to begin commercial flights by mid-2019. That’s just a few months away!
Blue Origin revealed plans back in 2016 to begin flying passengers to space on the New Shepard by 2018, however, in 2018 they indicated tickets will not be selling until 2019. The New Shepard landed safely in the Texas desert after the systems 10th test flight, could we see tickets on sale by the end of this year?
SpaceX has also been busy revealing the Starship Rocket which will be used for crewed missions to the moon and mars. On top of this, Musk created quite a stir when the Falcon Heavy had it’s first test flight beyond Mars’ orbit, carrying the Tesla Roadster.
So, with huge developments and plans in the works, who will be the first to crack the market and take the lead in the billionaire space race? Will it be Musk, Bezos or Branson? Take a look at the graphic for a more detailed view of the space race so far.