The billionaires in a race to get us off Earth and into space

World

The billionaires in a race to get us off Earth and into space

Humankind is pushing the frontiers of space again with businessmen taking the place of superpowers

Sarah Knapton

The space race was once fought out by superpowers, with the US and the Soviet Union goading each other to ever greater heights. Today, 50 years after Apollo 11 landed man on the moon, the same battle is raging between three billionaires.

Each nurses grandiose schemes to send tourists beyond Earth’s atmosphere and even establish colonies on Mars and the lunar surface. Richard Branson, of Virgin; Elon Musk, of SpaceX; and Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder behind Blue Origin, are armed with a combined wealth of about £140bn – and all claim to be close to sending civilians into space.

Within just weeks, SpaceX plans to launch the first humans in its Crew Dragon transporter, which docked unmanned at the International Space Station (ISS) last month. The ship holds seven people, and will initially be used to take US astronauts to and from the space station. However, earlier this month, Nasa announced it would allow tourists to visit the ISS from 2020, at a cost of £40m per flight and £27,500 per night. SpaceX will almost certainly be the company transporting them...

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