Richard Branson recently claimed space is “for all humanity” but it definitely still feels like a rich man’s game.
Branson is just the latest billionaire looking to chart the stars — and he’s being joined by some illustrious company. According to new media reports, Elon Musk has recently put down a $US10,000 ($13,400) deposit to reserve a seat on a future Virgin Galactic flight to suborbital space.
This is a portion of the reported $US250,000 ($334,000) cost of plane tickets — a significant sum for “all humanity”.
“Elon’s a friend, and maybe I’ll travel on one of his ships one day,” Branson told The Sunday Times in a recent interview, confirming Musk’s involvement.
The news follows the successful flight of the Virgin Galactic VSS Unity on Monday, which launched Branson and five other crewmates from Spaceport America in New Mexico to “just above” the boundary of space. The craft flew 86 kilometres above Earth before gliding back down to the New Mexico runway.
Musk was actually one of the few guests invited to watch the launch, which also hosted celebrities like musician Khalid and comedian Stephen Colbert.
The successful flight was a triumph for Branson and Virgin Galactic, and will no doubt lead to more crewed flights in future — but before then, another billionaire is also set to be sent sky-high as ‘space flight’ becomes the hot new thing.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will take part in a separate suborbital space flight later this month, with Blue Origin’s New Shepard craft set to take part in a similar launch on July 20. It’ll be crewed by Bezos and his brother Mark, aviator Wally Funk and an unnamed crewmate who reportedly put down $US28 million ($37.4 million) to join in the fun.
Space really is the next frontier for billionaires, and it’s likely we’ll hear much more about these individual projects (and Musk’s involvement) in the months to come.
A recent petition asking for Jeff Bezos to be denied re-entry to Earth following his space flight has so far gained more than 156,000 signatures and will no doubt gain more traction as we approach the upcoming launch. Only time will tell if more famous names are added to that prestigious list.