Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson are three billionaire entrepreneurs who have a combined net worth of $400 billion, equivalent to the GDP of Ireland. They have decided to invest a significant amount of their wealth into their space travel dreams, creating a modern space race that is dominated by ultra-rich men rather than countries. The space companies founded by the three billionaires have different goals and visions of how to achieve them. Although the Branson-Musk-Bezos dynamic has appeared competitive, it depends on how you look at it. In this regard, this article assesses which billionaire is winning the space race.
Putting it in Perspective:
The press has dubbed Bezos, Branson, and Musk as the three “space barons” because of their similarities in making their fortunes in other industries before venturing into extraterrestrial ventures. They all founded their companies within a few years of each other, becoming the most recognizable faces in the 21st-century space race. While they are the most prominent players in the game, there are hundreds of space start-ups worldwide focused on everything from satellite technology to orbiting hotels. SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin have benefited greatly through partnerships with NASA and the US military and continue to compete and occasionally partner with legacy aerospace companies such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and United Launch Alliance.
Space fans are usually the first to declare SpaceX the frontrunner in the race. SpaceX, founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, has built rockets that can shuttle satellites and cargo into Earth’s orbit, developed a 1,500-piece constellation of internet-beaming satellites, and figured out how to land and reuse much of its hardware after flight. It has also won massive NASA and US military contracts and developed the most powerful rocket in operation, capable of taking humans to the International Space Station, moon, and Mars. Musk has created a fervent base of supporters who defend his every move. SpaceX is credited with disrupting the rocket industry, which was considered stagnant for a couple of decades before SpaceX came along. However, Musk himself has not traveled to space, nor has he said if he is willing to take on the risk anytime soon. He has criticized his rivals for attempting to generate profits, while SpaceX has the stated goal of “making life multiplanetary.”
Bezos, who is the world’s richest person, founded Blue Origin in 2000 and gave it the motto “gradatim ferociter,” which translates to “step by step, ferociously.” The company’s mascot is a tortoise, paying homage to the tortoise and the hare fable that made the “slow and steady wins the race” mantra a childhood staple. The company operates slowly and meticulously, unlike SpaceX, which embraces speed and trial-and-error over slow, meticulous development processes. Blue Origin aims to develop cheaper rocket and spacecraft technologies to create extraterrestrial housing necessary for extending human life after Earth reaches a theoretical, far-off energy scarcity crisis. The company has also laid out plans for a lunar lander and to work alongside NASA and others to establish a moon base. Blue Origin’s fully autonomous, reusable, suborbital rocket, called New Shepard, was intended to…
The article examined the space race and assessed which billionaire is winning it. Although Bezos, Branson, and Musk have made significant investments in their space travel dreams, they have different goals and visions of how to achieve them. While Musk’s SpaceX has disrupted the rocket industry, Bezos’s Blue Origin operates slowly and meticulously, and Branson’s Virgin Galactic is a suborbital joy ride company. The space race is not limited to these three billionaires, as hundreds of start-ups worldwide are focused on everything from satellite technology to orbiting hotels.