Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, three billionaire entrepreneurs, are competing to bring a new age of commercial space tourism.
Here’s how they compare in the race for the ultimate frontier to wealthy citizen astronauts.
Musk, Bezos, and Branson have invested billions in their space companies. Each promises to take paying customers to space, and there will be a large fee to book a space seat.
Virgin Galactic, Branson’s company, has reported that it has received more than 600 reservations and is currently selling tickets at $250,000 per ticket. It plans to start regular commercial services in 2022, and eventually will reduce the ticket price to approximately $40,000. Branson will be taking one of the six seats on his company’s test flight to space with a crewed crew on Sunday.
Daily Reuters reported that Blue Origin, owned by Bezos, was planning to charge passengers at most $200,000 per ride. This was based on an assessment of Branson’s rival plans, but its thinking might have changed. Blue has not disclosed its long-term pricing structure.
Blue’s first suborbital flight is scheduled for July 20th. An unidentified individual secured one of the seats with Blue using a $28 million auction. Wally Funk and Mark Bezos will join him. Wally Funk is one of 13 women who completed NASA’s astronaut training program. He will become the oldest person to fly in space at 82 years old.
Musk’s SpaceX has already launched astronauts and cargo payloads into space to the International Space Station. The company also plans to launch an all-civilian crew into orbit this September. Musk also stated that SpaceX will fly Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire, around the moon in its Starship rocket in 2023.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo system, which is reusable, will see the VSS Unity spaceplane lifted by a twin-fuselage carrier plane to 50,000 feet (15.250m), where it then separates and rockets through the atmosphere to 55 miles (88 km). The spaceplane glides back to landing on a runway.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket and capsule combo launches directly into suborbital space, before seperating. The rocket section lifts itself back to launchpad while the pressurized capsule flies back to Earth using parachutes. Six observation windows are included, which is the largest number ever found in a space vehicle.
SpaceX Crew Dragon sits on top of a reusable Falcon 9 Rocket, which it uses for orbit.
CREW AND PASSENGERS
Virgin Galactic’s spaceplane holds six people, including two crew members and four passengers.
Blue Origin’s craft is capable of carrying six passengers and can fly independently.
SpaceX Dragon can carry up to seven people.
Virgin Galactic claims a flight time of approximately 90 minutes, including 4 minutes in microgravity.
Blue Origin’s suborbital capsule flight takes around 10 minutes from separation. Once again, passengers onboard feel a brief period of weightlessness before seeing the curvature and return to Earth.
SpaceX missions will last between three and four days from launch until splashdown.
Virgin Galactic, like all Branson’s ventures is publicly funded. After June 2021’s approval by the FAA of passenger travel, Virgin Galactic shares topped $60.
Blue Origin is privately held. Amazon.com Inc founder Bezos stated previously that he would sell $1 billion of Amazon stock annually to finance the venture.
SpaceX, which is privately held, has raised billions in funding rounds. Fidelity and Alphabet are key investors. Musk claims that SpaceX charter flight fees will be used to fund missions to Mars and the moon.