Space Race 2.0?

If you have access to Apple TV+, check out the show, For All Mankind. 

The premise is a sci-fi drama dealing with an alternate history asking, “What if the Russians landed on the moon first and what if the space race never ended?”  It originally garnered my attention being one of the only and earliest Apple TV shows available but has become more relevant now that the world has regained enthusiasm for travelling to outer space.  Over the last month, Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos both travelled to the brink of nothingness once again offering hope for those also wanting to fulfill their childhood dreams of being an astronaut.

Despite launching within weeks of one another, both Branson, Bezos (and let’s throw in Elon musk as well for good measure) are all operating their space voyages and companies differently. Branson was first to visit sub orbital space (commonly known as 62miles above sea level) and did so his ship, which almost looks more like a futuristic plane with wings.  Branson’s rocket was lifted to nearly 50,000ft by a “mothership” before detaching, igniting its engines, and flying itself to the brink of space and eventually landing itself on the same runway where it took off from.  Bezos’s company, Blue Origin, is a more traditional rocket, launching vertically, with a capsule that detaches in space allowing the rocket to fly itself back to earth, while the capsule parachutes down to a soft landing.  Elon Musk wisely may not be flying to space for at least a while longer, quoted as saying “I’d like to die on Mars, just not on impact.”  SpaceX’s Starship is designed more for deep space travel.

Beyond just their methods of reaching space, the ventures are all different too.  Virgin Galactic is a publicly traded company, where you and I can buy shares on a stock exchange under the ticker SPCE – get it?  The focus, as you might expect based on other Virgin companies, is on Space Tourism.  Unsurprisingly, some analysts’ expectations imply beyond-earth’s-orbit valuations.  As of June, the company had about 600 reservations so far, with each ticket being sold for $200,000 to $250,000.  Bezos claimed Blue Origin’s bookings are reaching nearly $100million in sales – too bad this did not count towards Amazon’s disappointing Q2 earnings released last week.  Musk & Bezos have much grander visions for space travel that stretch and survive long beyond the age of our own Earth!  Musk has always had his eyes set on Mars and Bezos’s wants his company to serve as a bridge to future possibilities of life beyond Earth.

While For All Mankind has some very tense moments regarding the USA/Russia relationship on the Moon (no spoilers!) there are characters with other visions for NASA and space travel, including Mars.  Musk, Bezos and Branson are all leading a new travel frontier in different ways with completely different visions (some recreational and some far more humanitarian) for what space represents.

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