Space billionaires trade banter and blastoffs

Image: Richard Branson
Richard Branson is in a friendly rivalry with Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture may have done another flight test, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX is making waves with its rocket progress – but don’t forget about Richard Branson.

“Our spaceship comes back and lands on wheels. Theirs don’t,” the billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic said during a CNBC interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “There’ll be banter like this which will take place, and that’s good. People will have a choice of which spaceships they want to use to go to space.”

Blue Origin is developing spaceships for suborbital as well as orbital trips. In November, Blue Origin’s uncrewed New Shepard test vehicle went into space for the first time and made a successful vertical landing. If all goes well, the company could be flying passengers in two years.

Today there was a torrent of tweets about a possible Blue Origin flight test. First, the Federal Aviation Administration alerted aviators to stay away from the airspace over the company’s test range in West Texas. Then, around midday today, the restrictions were lifted. One Twitter user, Patrick Brown, went so far as to post a picture of what appears to be a rocket trail leading up from the company’s test range in West Texas.

Blue Origin kept mum. “Unfortunately, Blue Origin doesn’t have anything to contribute at this time,” the company said in a statement emailed to GeekWire.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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