BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - It’s the gift that keeps on giving: an ambitious dream turned to reality.
"To all you kids down there, I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars," said Richard Branson during his speech from space on July 11.
Three main players are writing their names in the stars.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is busy building rockets and paving the way for space exploration.
Virgin Galactic’s CEO Richard Branson is focusing on spaceflight. About a week ago, he successfully flew up 53 miles into space and back safely.
Now, another billionaire is preparing for his big moment. Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin flight is less than 24 hours away.
"What Branson has is a spaceplane that is dropped from a carrier aircraft at about 45,000 feet, fires its engines, and then goes up to about 53 miles," said space and science journalist Ken Kremer.
He said, "Bezos has a completely different system. He has a more traditional rocket. A rocket and a capsule. He is scheduled to go tomorrow morning, Tuesday, from West Texas. It is a rocket that goes up nearly 60 miles, and then the capsule separates and continues on to the edge of space."
Blue Origin's New Shepard, a small, suborbital rocket, will take off vertically from a launch pad going 62 miles into space, giving a shorter but higher-speed journey than Branson's spaceplane.
While Branson made history as the first billionaire into space, Bezos’ flight would be the world's first unpiloted trip to the edge of space with an all-civilian crew.
Both are designed to take paid passengers more than dozens of miles above the Earth's surface to experience a few moments of weightlessness and see the planet they live on from a birdseye view.
"All of these billionaires are investing their own money and they are bringing the cost of access to space down and that means we can do more exploration and more research," Kremer said.
Musk has defended the so-called space race among some of the world’s richest men, saying space represents hope for so many.
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