Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will be launching himself to space today aboard the New Shepard, a rocket ship created by the billionaire’s company, Blue Origin.
However, Bezos will not be the first billionaire to go to space on a vehicle he funded. Nine days prior, British billionaire Richard Branson successfully took a joy ride to space aboard the VSS Unity, a spacecraft developed by the entrepreneur’s company, Virgin Galactic.
On July 11, Branson — along with Virgin Galactic employees Beth Moses, Colin Bennett, and Sirisha Bandla and pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci — enjoyed panoramic views of the Earth and a few minutes of weightlessness before returning to the ground.
Both Branson and Bezos have been competing in the “billionaire space race,” as both men have worked to develop, test and launch suborbital rockets that can take customers to space.
Although Branson beat Bezos to space by nine days, Branson has dismissed the idea that he raced Bezos to space. However, his plan to get to space was not part of the testing roadmap laid out earlier this year by Virgin Galactic.
Nevertheless, Branson and Bezos’ space tourism companies have one key difference: Bezos’ Blue Origin has never taken a person into space inside one of its spacecrafts.