Branson vs. Bezos: Who’s got the better space plan?

Over the next fortnight, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson will take off into space, because they can, on spaceships designed by their respective companies.

It’s a big moment for the private space industry. But the question comes to mind: who has the smarter plan?

A billionaire’s space race

On May 5 Blue Origin, owned by former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, announced it would fly its first crew of astronauts into space on July 20 — the Apollo 11 Moon landing’s 52nd anniversary.

After 15 successful test flights, this will be the first crewed flight for Blue Origin’s New Shepard spaceship. One seat will be occupied by an undisclosed winner of a charity auction, who reportedly paid US$28 million for the privilege. Two more seats will be taken up by Bezos and his brother Mark.

A fourth seat will go to Wally Funk. The 82-year-old pilot was a promising candidate in the 1960s Mercury 13 women’s astronaut training program but wasn’t able to go to space because of her gender.


Credit: Blue Origin