Author at The Secrets of the Universe, I am a Biology and Chemistry high school student from Poland. I love writing about conquest and research in space and future possibilities for Humanity and Astrophysics.
For many years space race was basically synonymous to a competition between most powerful countries. However, things have changed a lot. Some billionaires, including Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos decided to conquer cosmos using their fortunes. Though national agencies still play a big role, SpaceX and Blue Origins have made some contributions over the years and are still developing. So, how do two biggest private space companies look in comparison to each other?
The Chief Executive Officers
First of all, let’s look at the basics. Both companies were found by extremely successful businessmen, both want to enable space tourism, but there’s a lot of difference. SpaceX was found by Elon Musk- the creator of Paypal, who is also a CEO of the company- in 2002. Over the years SpaceX created many projects, including a voyage to Mars, cheap rockets and space tourism. SpaceX hires over seven thousand employees. On the other side there is Blue Origin - founded by the CEO of Amazon- Jeff Bezos- in September 2000, however he is not a CEO. The head of the company is Robert H. Smith- PhD aerospace engineer and business executive- it also hires over two thousand people. Blue Origin focuses on developing rocket-powered vertical-takeoff and vertical-landing vehicles, which allow to access suborbital and orbital space.
The Blue Origins
Bezos referred to Blue Origins plans as "…letting the demand for space tourism and research determine how many additional vehicles may be needed.", let’s see where is it on this path after over almost two decades of existence. The first big success of B.O was the first development vehicle of the New Shepard program- a sub-scale demonstration vehicle, built in 2006, using engine earlier developed by the company. It was named Goddard and it made its first flight on 13 November 2006. The New Shepard project also made the first vertical soft landing in 2015 and the series of developments and tests led us to New Shepard 4 that is supposed to be the first companies’ vehicle to carry passengers. If everything goes well we may even see it by the end of the year.
Another Blue Origin’s programmes are New Glenn, announced in 2016, which is an orbital rocket that will carry satellites. The first company paying for orbital satellite launches was Eutelsat. It is expected to start launching TV satellites in 2022 on new vehicle. The newest programme is called Blue Moon Lander, which will carry up to 6.5 tons to the moon, land using company’s soft-landing technology. The programme was announced in May 2019.
Elon Musk also thought about space tourism, though SpaceX plans involve Mars travel. Over the years SpaceX reduced the cost of space travel to ten million, launched the first privately funded liquid-fueled rocket to reach orbit in 2008, first one that went to ISS (2012) and also first ever relaunch and landing of a used rocket. After couple more achievements, in 2017 SpaceX my a big step to space tourism by the first reflight of commercial spacecraft and in 2019 it became the first private company to send a human-rated spacecraft to space. When it comes to the colonization of Mars, the first step on the planet’s surface is supposed to be taken in 2024. Next, Musk claims that the company will develop a colony on the Red Planet, though the strategies aren’t very precise. For more information about SpaceX goals please check out my article from February.
Both SpaceX and Blue Origins gave a lot to the space industry and they are quite alike, but each one has its own goals, technologies and methods. Bezos will develop space tourism and commercial service for the companies, Musk will die on Mars (and not because of an accident) and also take some part in the tourism. Both companies can learn from each other and contributed a lot to the space travel, that humanity is still at the beginning of.