Billionaire Richard Branson Will Beat Jeff Bezos to Space

Richard Branson is racing Jeff Bezos to their first sub-orbital flight into space.

Richard Branson is the founder of Virgin Galactic. He plans to fly into space aboard his company’s VSS Unity rocketplane on July 11 for an up-and-down test flight. Amazon-founder and rival Jeff Bezos plans to fly on his Blue Origin rocket into sub-orbital space on July 19.

Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are competing for sub-orbital tourist launches.

SpaceX will fly its first orbital space tourists (4 at a time) later in 2021 through Inspiration4.

Nextbigfuture wishes Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and the rest of the Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin crews safe journeys this month.

SOURCES – Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, SpaceX, Inspiration 4
Written by Brian Wang,

46 thoughts on “Billionaire Richard Branson Will Beat Jeff Bezos to Space”

  1. The return of the Victorian idea of the gentleman adventurer? Safaris in space rather than in Africa. Good, more people will want to emulate them which will drive investment and innovation, which will continue to drive cost down. Of course, others will want to regulate them so that they don't disrupt the status quo.

  2. Musk likes a good joke, but I think that he understands that if he dies this year, then the Mars colonisation project is dead on the water. If he is not here to push for it, nobody will. Maybe others will push for O'Neill colonies (like our friend Dan), maybe for a science lab on the lunar South pole. But definitely nothing manned in translunar space, and thus a well-aimed supernova relativistic jet can sterilise all of human civilisation, no trouble.

    Maybe in another ten or twenty years things will have enough inertia that even if Elon dies in a stupid accident, the colony will still happen. For now, I think he knows he cannot afford to roll the dice.

  3. This is Musk we are talking about. Are we absolutely sure he won't just do that as a surprise?

    Livestream it from orbit where he's got a handicam to point down and record the Virgin flight? Make some virgin jokes that get the youtube video banned?

  4. Who was the first European aristocrat to die in the Americas?

    Don't know? I don't know. Nobody cares.

    The first to get there gets the glory. Leif Erikson. Christopher Columbus. Amerigo Vespucci.

    The first to stage a revolution and win independence. They get glory too. Washington, Bolivar, O'Higgins.

  5. what a strange thing… truly a vague and arbitrary document. Passengers. Very little on risk, responsiblity, and liabilities… training, maintenance? infrastructure above and below?…

  6. also… see how the waiting list and 'deposit' booking 'pop' on their successful return… gap-up on valuation, revenue for the next 2 – 3 years, image of a tourist-this decade-first mindset. Big line-up for guests equals investors, territories vying for spaceports, spaceplane makers/ buyers industries…

  7. question is: depends on what kind of station: commercial-tourist vs commercial-research vs residential vs government-misc
    — my guess is: govt-misc (i.e. manned space command) at lunar

  8. Indeed-the Best Station wins. I'm kind of leaning towards a successful lunar orbiter with descending craft capability. Orbiter cost, capacity, overcoming grav issues in multi-day stays. First 50-person station may be lunar.

  9. agreed.
    first to orbit. cheapest to orbit. first to industrialize. cheapest to industrialize. –> does not make for a compelling and econo-sustainable tourism and occupiable industry. Vision of the Place, in light of grav-, health-, and launch-and-land logistics- tech will win the Industry.

  10. disparage not Virgin Galactic – they are creating a brand, not just an industrial, toursit-launch-assembly line — first 50 tourists (but not first 10) into LEO will be VG.

  11. As the number of people who see Earth in Space dramatically increases, the overview effect should start to kick in politically, esp if politicians go for a ride. How could they not? Now, if they could only understand inner space.

  12. Also if his Starship full stack flies next month, he can laugh at their puny rockets.

  13. So’s Bezos, it’s kind of the point of these vehicles. Both of them have orbital rockets for payloads. Not sure what your specific beef with Branson is.

  14. Tesla, of course. That was the one with added "steps" every few days, then launch to the West?

  15. Curiously, the rockets are not important to O'Neill plans. Bezos has a lunar lander for robots, 4 large rovers, ready to go, engine tested and designed specifically for the task. They could have been of any scale, depending upon rockets. But they will return stuff to lunar orbit. Orbit is the key. BIS sez skip the Moon, go straight to NEOs. Do both, the key is the micr0g mfg and presence, robots first! L5 or HEO? Who know? As for launches comparable to SpaceX F9, Bezos skipped that step and is farming that market, including his needs, out to Vulcan as a trade for engines, very good business. Very good engines. O'Neill sez *avoid* launch, not get stuck in the details. Bezos does not go down if Musk kills Vulcan. New Glenn will use New Shep 3rd stage to tow lander to lunar orbit for descent, something tells me. Soon. The crew stuff is not his initial focus, but still needed of course. Again, launch with Musk rockets fine too. It is the plan that matters!

  16. The name of the first multi-billionaire space entrepreneur to die in a space accident will be remembered for centuries. Embrace ego. Embrace fame.

  17. I mean, there is something to be said about Bezos and Branson eating their own dog food, but in the end of the day this isn't going to open up space. LauncherOne and New Glenn are, and those are the craft that matter.

    In this sense, Branson's gotten the first point in, but if New Glenn has the kind of economies of scale that are expected of it, it may not matter.

  18. The thing is that, because Branson isn't going to cross the 100 km line, he can't steal Bezos's thunder since he can arbitrarily decide he was the first of his clique to go beyond the "real" line for him, which is the IAU one.

    Either way, none of them get Astronaut wings from the US military.

  19. I'm sure it's primarily an insurance thing. He's been D.D. Hariman'ed out of going to space, if you recall your Heinlein.

  20. So, if that's his reason for Blue Origin to go orbital, why have they been so slow about doing it? They got their start before SpaceX, and yet here SpaceX is, launching two thirds of the tonnage going into space, soon to be three quarters, and Blue Origin is launching somewhere between diddly and squat.

    Mind, that may be while he retired from Amazon to take direct control. But you'd think even while running Amazon he could have applied a bit more pressure on his rocket company to deliberately go *faster*.

  21. Well I really don’t care if you throw your toys out of the pram! 

    You and I don’t define what constitutes an astronaut. If you’re only going suborbital any arbitrary altitude is just that, arbitrary. If NASA determines an altitude to give someone astronaut wings, then it’s their prerogative. 
    Suck it up.

  22. Don't give me that… I really do not care how NASA and other defined what constitutes an astronaut, because calling Branson an astronaut would be like calling someone who's only stuck their toes in the water an Olympic swimmer.

  23. I just assume Musk has not gone because orbital is a long trip, not just sub orbital. The main difference is that Musk does not understand Space, Bezos does! Saying an O'Neill guy is not going for a *new industry* is due to the fact that he is never accurately covered in the media. Show me an accurate description of O'Neill, or even mention of O'Neill, in the coverage lately. I predict this will significantly change by July 20th.

  24. Only reason Musk won't be watching him do it from orbit is that SpaceX's insurers would have a fit.

  25. So has Musk and Branson. Bezos was clearly trying to beat Branson when he announced he was going on the July flight, and Branson looks like he will spoil his party. It’s a pride think for both. Musk is more focused on the bigger prize.

  26. Yes, he's genuine in his interest.

    What I meant is that Branson and Bezos seem to see it more as a competition to space for which they have something to prove themselves. Musk sees it as a new industry, important by itself and he isn't strapping himself to a Dragon 2 to prove it.

    And it will show as replies to Musk whenever the supremacy of SpaceX arises. "Says the one who hasn't gone to space".

    Musk isn't blameless for these expected reactions, though, having sent a fair number of mean spirited jokes and jabs at their general direction.

  27. Finally, Bezos will have a reason for blue origin to go orbital. Then he might be able to beat Branson.

  28. I don't think Bezos is just showing off. He has been interested in space since he was a kid.

  29. This recalls me David Brin's "Existence" novel , where billionaires have suborbital rockets to compete in daredevil stunts scrapping the Kármán line, but human space is still stuck with Shuttles in LEO.

    Anyway good for them, it's their money and their lives (and their passenger's).

    For me, it shows that for these guys it really is like a hobby or a competition.

    Musk seems quite more serious about it, though. Not planning to go himself immediately to show off, but rather he's planning to enable many others to go.

    In the end, that's what matters.

  30. This will bring a lot of attention to space helping to speed up the commercialisation

    Wish them all a very safe and pleasant journey

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