But last week sir richard branson boarded virgin galactic’s rocket plane and flew into space first. That means branson won the billionaire space race. Right kind of i want to share a few facts and common misconceptions about this billionaire space race and why it excites me as a giant space, nerd and former rocket scientist let’s launch right into it. Richard branson and jeff bezos are in a race to build a space tourism. Business virgin galactic uses a pretty sweet. Looking twin fuselage carrier aircraft called eve. Eve carries the unity, a sub orbital rocket powered space plane to about 50 000 feet above sea level, at which point the unity ignites its rocket motor to go the rest of the way about 53 miles above the earth. Then, after a few minutes of weightlessness unity, glides back down to spaceport america in new mexico, the whole flight from takeoff to landing takes about 90 minutes around five of which are actually in space. The first bit of nerdy drama is whether richard branson actually went to space. There are two arguments against it. First, neil degrasse tyson has come out to say that branson didn’t go into space because it was suborbital, meaning he wasn’t on a path that would actually orbit around the earth. This argument makes no sense in my opinion, because space has nothing to do with orbits. It happens at a distance away from the earth, not a specific speed or on a certain path.
You can make a path that’s launched from earth go past the karman line, which is an altitude of about 62 miles or 100 kilometers and then fall back to earth. That’S, actually, how ballistic missiles work the only difference is they go much higher, but they are by definition, sub orbital. Also, most satellites fall back to earth if they don’t actively boost themselves to maintain their orbits over time. I’M. Actually. 100. Positive that neil degrasse tyson knows this, so i think he’s just trying to get a rise out of nerds like me. Come on man that carmen line at 100 kilometers is actually the other point of contention. Since branson’s flight only went up to 80 kilometers or 50 miles, jeff bezos and blue origin were quick to point out that only four percent of the world recognizes the beginning of space at this 50 mile line above the earth and that blue origins flight will pass. This higher boundary the carmen line check out blue origin’s hilarious, tinder profile. I mean infographic that lets you know just how much better it is than virgin galactic. It has no problem getting its rocket all the way up into space. It wants you to know that it has huge windows and, if you ask nicely it might even let you escape swipe right. What blue origin doesn’t mention is that the us military and nasa are the four percent that recognize this 50 mile line. So, in my opinion, if it’s space enough for nasa it’s space enough for me, blue origin’s flight profile looks a lot more like what you probably think of when you think of a rocket going to space there’s a rocket with a payload that lifts off vertically.
From the ground, then, after a few minutes, the capsule separates from the rocket and crosses the karman line before returning to earth and making a parachute landing. Meanwhile, the rocket returns and autonomously lands on the landing pad. So this is a clear example of a sub orbital space flight right, neal, okay, so that’s what these billionaires are doing with their spaceships today. But what do these two companies actually do, and why should we even care about this space race, let’s start with some commentary from abc news by steve ganyard, a former marine corps fighter pilot, so let’s get a reality check. Richard branson flew to the edge of space and in a launch scheduled for next week, jeff bezos plans to fly above the so called carmen line. Are there meaningful differences between these two flights yeah? So so the the key here is that that bezos and branson are sort of fighting for this idea of an e ticket ride for rich people. Uh it’s not like it’s moving forward with the science, and you know they’re doing things really that the u.s government was doing in the 1950s and 60s. So they’re not really pushing the envelope on science it’s important to understand that these are businesses and that bezos and uh and branson are looking to create businesses with this space. Tourism uh it’s, not cheap uh it. If you look at the virgin galactic stock over the past year, it’s up about 70 percent, because people think that this is going to be a business but that business is gon na have to uh take people on board at about three to four hundred thousand dollars.
If you look at the at the uh at the stock filings that they put in not 250., so they’re gon na have to find a lot of people at three to four hundred thousand dollars who have nothing better to do with that money to uh support this Business: okay, let me first say that i have a tremendous amount of respect for steve gnard as a former marine corps fighter pilot he’s, a great source of commentary on space and aerospace and he’s right space tourism today, isn’t cheap. But in my opinion, all of this commentary saying these billionaires are wasting their time. Making joy rides for other rich people are really missing. The mark and a former fighter pilot would have been the perfect person to point this out, here’s a fun fact in the beginning. The cost to take an airplane anywhere was laughably high. The very first commercial flight took off on january 1st 1914, the former mayor of st petersburg florida, the town. I live in right now paid 400 to take a 23 minute flight that covered 18.6 miles across the tampa bay. Let’S do some basic math. It turns out that in 1914 is just under 11 000 in 2021. in today’s dollars. The cost of that flight was 590 dollars per mile. Today, the average cost to fly one mile is under 30 cents, meaning the cost has fallen by two thousand times or two hundred thousand percent over the last 110 years.
My point is people always say this same thing about new expensive technologies when they first come out, airplane tickets are too expensive and only for the rich personal computers and cell phones are too expensive and only for the rich one day it’ll be tickets to the moon. Are too expensive, and only for the rich, as of today, less than 1 000 people have ever been to space and it cost many billions of dollars to get them there. The innovation here is taking something incredibly difficult, making a market out of it and scaling it to make it more affordable to more people over time. Here’S how these businesses are doing. That virgin galactic is pretty much a pure play. Travel company. They plan on eventually scaling up to about 400 space flights per year, assuming six passengers per flight, that’s 2400 people touching space each year on top of that they’re also looking to transport high net worth individuals and corporate executives on hypersonic long distance flights each year. There are over 2 million flights on private planes and jets that are longer than 7 hours, so there’s, actually quite a sizeable market for this type of travel. We’D be crazy to believe that virgin galactic isn’t, pushing the boundaries of technology and travel to make space more accessible to humanity over time. Jeff bezos’s, blue origin is an important partner in nasa’s artemis iii project that aims to land humans on the moon by 2024. Nasa has awarded a billion dollars to blue origin to produce the landing system for artemis iii and is one of the finalists to work with nasa on technologies for future space exploration missions, not just space tourism.
So, in my opinion, blue origin’s, historic unpiloted fight with an all civilian crew will be a direct step on the long road of humanity as a multi planet species. Like i mentioned earlier, less than 1 000 people have ever been to space think about how much that number will grow over the next decade and all the innovations that will come from these companies. Just like all the innovations that come out of airplanes, personal computers and cell phones, all of which started out to be too expensive for the common person there’s a third billionaire in this space race that we have to talk about elon, musk’s spacex has been sending astronauts To the international space station via the crew dragon capsule since last year, which nasa hasn’t done since the space shuttle’s last flight in 2011., spacex is also developing the starship for deep space missions and space tourism, as well as point to point. Travel on earth, here’s, steve ganiard, again talking about why exactly spacex’s contributions are important to everyone, not just the ultra wealthy, and explain why it’s really elon, musk and spacex, not branson and bezos that have already changed space exploration. What elon musk has done is to create this new starship rocket and the falcon 9 rockets that he’s doing now to have a very reliable way to get things into space very cheaply. And that is going to be critical for the aspirations that musk and bezos and and the us government really all of the humanity has to get to the moon to get to mars and to be able to do it in you know in an economical way, um.
If you look back at say the space shuttle base, it took about 25 000 to put one pound into orbit. Now with the starship, the elon musk has developed, it’ll be down around 700, so we can do things in space. Where we can, we can uh. We can make fabrication in space, we can build colonies on the moon, we can take it into space and do things like new medicines and new materials, but it’s always good when people see things where they it’s and they inspire hey i’d like to go to space, That looks really interesting. They learn more about space and why space is important. So i think in the long run, it’s not to look down on these billionaires because they’re spending a whole bunch of money out of their pocket and the real goal here for elon musk is to get to mars and for jeff bezos to get to the moon And they’re spending billions of dollars out of their own pocket and they’re successful in the ways that the u.s government never has been in terms of bringing down costs. So yes, this is a bit of a billionaire’s play thing, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be something that’s very, very important for all of humanity and moving us into space and being able to do things that we’ve never been able to do Before so, elon’s starship is dropping the cost to put one pound of mass into orbit from 25 000 to just 700.
said another way, spacex is making it about 35 times cheaper or 3 500 percent cheaper to put people and things into space. As a result, the number of satellites we can put into space and the size of each satellite is going up dramatically. Humanity relies on satellites for many incredibly important things, ranging from gps to internet and telephone connectivity to monitoring rainforests, weather patterns, sea levels and climate change. The next time you see angry tweets posted from a portable laptop or a camera phone saying that investing in space doesn’t provide any service to the world. Remember that those same technologies come from previous space programs. The next time you see articles that say no matter who wins the space race humanity loses. I hope you understand that this gets said every time humanity is about to win big from the airplane to the personal computer to the cell phone. I hope this episode helped. You understand a little more about this billionaire space race and why it really does matter if it did. Let me know by doing absolutely nothing except enjoying this little video i put together to celebrate these next small steps for man which will result in giant leaps for mankind when i close my eyes and think about the future. The far future i can’t help but imagine humanity as a multi planet, species we’re, pioneers adventurers and explorers and space after all, is the final frontier. In the last 50 years, we’ve begun building the first tools, we’ll use to clean the stars and the ships that will one day take us there.
This dream of other planets is slowly becoming real and while earth will always be our origin with a lot of effort and investment, this pale blue dot might not always be our only home. The reason it’s becoming real is because of advanced technology, not always disruptive, like tesla, in fact, sometimes entirely quiet and unnoticed. But if you think about this interstellar journey, i think you’ll see that it takes every ounce of human ingenuity to make it leaving. Earth may not be an easy task, but i can’t shake this crazy feeling that we’ll do it anyway. The steps to get us there are fraught with challenges and no engineer or scientist has all the answers, but together with practice and patience and lots and lots of innovation across every science, every trade and every art, we will keep iterating on our dream and standing up. After failures and reaching for the stars, Music and one day, those stars will be in reach and we will make one more giant leap for mankind: Music, the reason i’m so passionate about innovation isn’t because of the stock market or even arc, invest it’s, because i believe That it all plays a role in this interstellar journey, your future and mine, and when our grandchildren stand on the new edge of humanity and build their own homes and industries and cultures, they’ll wonder where they all came from and how humanity could even dare to dream. So far, and then they will reach for new stars of their own at least that’s.