Jeff Bezos in front of the Blue Origin space capsule

Dubbed the ‘NewSpace’ set, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the United States defeated the Soviet Union in the space race. , and there is no doubt how much it would mean to each of them to win the “new space race”.

Amazon founder Bezos appeared to be the first of three to soar into space, after announcing plans to launch aboard his space firm Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20, but Branson preceded him.

The British billionaire became Virgin Galactic Astronaut 001 when he flew into space on a suborbital flight nine days before Bezos – on July 11 on a test flight.

Bezos traveled to space on July 20 with his younger brother Mark, Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old physics student whose father bought his ticket, and pioneer astronaut Wally Funk, 82.

Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk said he wanted to go to space, and even “die on Mars,” he didn’t say when he could get into orbit – but bought a ticket. with Virgin Galactic for a suborbital flight.

SpaceX became the first of the “space tourism” operators to send a fully civilian crew into orbit, with the Inspiration4 mission funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman.

Its flight was on a Dragon capsule and SpaceX rocket built by space-obsessed billionaire Elon Musk and took off for the three-day orbital journey on September 16 – going higher than the International Space Station.

SpaceX appears to be leading the way in the larger billionaire space race with numerous launches carrying equipment from NASA to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists into space by 2021.

On February 6, 2018, SpaceX sent a rocket into orbit of Mars, 140 million kilometers away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached.

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

SpaceX also took two groups of astronauts to the International Space Station, along with crews from NASA, ESA and JAXA, the Japanese space agency.

SpaceX sent batches of 60 satellites into space to help train its Starlink network, which is already in beta and provides fast internet access to rural areas.

Branson and Virgin Galactic take a different approach to conquering space. He has repeatedly and successfully performed test flights of the Virgin Galactic Unity space plane.

The first was in December 2018 and the last on May 22, with the flight accelerating to over 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7).

More than 600 high net worth clients to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $ 250,000 (£ 200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips. Final tickets are expected to cost $ 350,000.

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 starship

Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic starship

SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger enjoys the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one over the head.

The spacecraft is 60 feet long with a 90-inch diameter cabin allowing astronauts to float in zero gravity.

It climbs to 50,000 feet before the rocket engine ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier ship, White Knight II, once it crosses the 50 mile mark.

Passengers become “astronauts” when they reach the Karman Line, the limit of Earth’s atmosphere.

The spacecraft will then make a suborbital journey of about six minutes of weightlessness, the full flight lasting about an hour and a half.

Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he funds Blue Origin with around $ 1 billion (£ 720 million) of Amazon stock each year.

The system consists of a pressurized crew capsule on top of a reusable “New Shepard” booster rocket.

At its peak, the capsule reached 104 kilometers, just above the official threshold of space, and landed vertically seven minutes after takeoff.

Blue Origin is working on New Glenn, the next-generation heavy rocket, which will compete with the SpaceX Falcon 9.