The New Space Race
Richard Branson isn’t the only entrepreneur with his head above the clouds
Virgin Galactic’s main rival in the field of private space flight is Spacex, founded by Silicon Valley guru Elon Musk. Whereas Virgin Galactic is focusing on passenger services, Spacex has been developing rockets and spacecraft in collaboration with public agencies like Nasa. But Musk has a bigger target in his sights. In June, he said he wants to send humans to Mars “in 10 to 12 years.” Another competitor is XCOR Aerospace, a California-based company that has developed a spacecraft called Lynx, which can take off and land horizontally, much like Virgin’s Spaceshiptwo. Lynx can carry just one passenger, but its ticket is relatively more affordable at US$95,000. That’s only marginally more expensive than the 30-kilometre-high balloon rides being tested by World View Enterprises, which plans to offer a four-hour near-space experience for US$75,000.