Yesterday Richard Branson became the first billionaire to escape the earth to the edge of space and make it back successfully. It took only 17 years of development and over a billion dollars of investment in Virgin Galactic. “I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, and honestly nothing could prepare you for the view of Earth from space,” Branson said after landing.
Jeff Bezos, who is expected to make the trip himself on July 20th, sent his congratulations to Branson on Instagram. Elon Musk was apparently hanging out with Branson before the launch (see memes below) and extended his best wishes as well. Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos' space company) are both competing for suborbital tourism, which has shorter flights and requires less training as passengers only go to the edge of space. Meanwhile an orbital flight, which Elon Musk's SpaceX is targeting, can cost tens of millions of dollars as passengers spend days or weeks in space.
Virgin Galactic said it plans to initiate paying passenger flights in 2022. The company has reportedly 600 reservations backed by $80 million in deposits. Tickets have sold for as much as $250k. Richard Branson's bestie, Elon Musk, is a ticketholder as well.
Short Squeez Takeaway: Branson's successful flight has opened the door for space tourism. Space tourism is expected to generate $4 billion in annual revenue by 2030. The market will expand as the cost of space travel comes down. The space wars have officially begun with Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX fighting it out for the top spot. If you can afford it, a space flight would make for a cool first date though.