The New Space Race – Will SpaceX Always Be Leading the Pack?
21 August 2018
Who is leading the New Space Race, SpaceX, Blue Origin, or Virgin Galactic?
The Space Barons by Christian Davenport is about the new race to space lead not by the government, but by privately owned space companies run by the world’s most famous billionaires, Elon Musk from SpaceX, Jeff Bezos from Blue Origin, and Richard Branson and Paul Allen from Virgin Galactic. Upon reading this book I did not know much about either Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic. I’m grateful to have learned more, but honestly, I’m still much more a fan of Elon Musk than I am of either Bezos, Branson, or Allen.
How Christian Davenport Portrayed SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic
Christian Davenport is a staff writer which clearly shows in his writing. This book is just like reading a story from a novel or magazine so it flows very nicely. That’s positive! The majority of Davenport’s writing nowadays happens at The Washinton Post. Guess who the owner of that paper is? Jeff Bezos. Yes, the man himself, the CEO of Blue Origin owns The Washinton Post. Davenport clearly states in a few parts of The Space Barons that this factor had no effect on how he wrote about each space company. He also says he didn’t give more importance to one over the other.
Truth be told, he did write about each company equally but the tone and individual stories about Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin seemed more personalized and emotional than it did when he referred to SpaceX. Virgin Galactic got a lot of emotional exposure as well. Although Davenport states that he didn’t let his boss influence the way he wrote his book, I can’t help to feel his bias showing straight through the words he wrote on the page.
Another factor to be considered in this was that most of what Davenport wrote about Elon Musk and SpaceX came from Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk Biography which was written in 2015. If you’re an Elon Musk fan like myself and you haven’t read his biography it’s a must read!
Note: There is a lot of interesting information about NASA’s plans in relation to these three private space companies.
My Thoughts on SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic’s Future
There’s no doubt that each of these space companies are aiming to change space travel for the betterment of human kind’s future. Yes, there is the not so far-fetched idea of colonizing Mars, but in my opinion, the idea of mining asteroids for unique minerals, fuels, and metals is by far an even better idea. There are a total of about 17,000 potential near Earth targets which could be worth trillions of dollars each. Why is this positively awesome? Because we wouldn’t have to be destroying our Earth continuously by drilling and using up all the Earth’s natural resources. The tricky part now will be landing on an asteroid and collecting the resources to bring back to Earth.
Related Post: Peter Diamandis’ Book BOLD (His company is one of the ones aiming to mine asteroids)
Another positive thing about these companies is that the aim to build an infrastructure for commercial space travel is just around the corner. This means that most likely in the next 5-10 years it will be possible for you to travel, for example, from New York to Shanghai in just 39 minutes! Not everyone would be able to handle the G-forces involved but most would as long as you’re in good health.
Although these amazing space companies are going head to head competing for historic launch pads and contracts with NASA it is mainly Jeff Bezos’ belief that if all space companies actually start loosely working together towards building a strong infrastructure it will allow a dynamic, entrepreneurial explosion of thousands of companies in space just like the likes seen over the last twenty-one years of having the Internet. Increase in tourism often leads to new technologies.
Who Will Win The New Space Race? SpaceX, Blue Origin, or Virgin Galactic?
I haven’t written much about Virgin Galactic in this article mainly because their business focus is more ‘touristy’. Virgin Galactic does want to provide suborbital flights but purely for entertainment purposes. The story about Virgin Galactic is interesting but I’ll save the details for you when you read this book. In my opinion, Virgin Galactic is out of The New Space Race at least for the big leagues.
SpaceX and Blue Origin, on the other hand, are going head to head both with completely different strategies. SpaceX and Elon Musk’s attitude is ‘Head down. Plow through the line’ which is just so Musk-like. Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos’ attitude is ‘Slow is smooth and smooth is fast’. Although I’m a huge Elon Musk and SpaceX fan I find myself relating more to the ‘Slow is smooth and smooth is fast’ mentality.
It’s clear that SpaceX has had the lead for many years now and will most likely keep the lead for a while longer. I would not count Blue Origin out of the race as their strategy is to pave the way block by block for other companies to follow in their footsteps. So, in reality, nobody is a winner or loser unless one were to just give up or go bankrupt. That scenario is unlikely to happen.
The best thing that could happen for every one of these space companies is for them to start working together. That scenario is also unlikely to happen, but we can at least hope for some cooperation down the line.
Great Quotes From SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Others
*He wasn’t just selling his rocket, but what it represented–the crazy idea that a small startup could succeed in space.
*The freedom to kill yourself in all manner of stupid ways is part of the American way.
*“Getting to orbit, that’s just a huge milestone. There are only a few countries who have done that. It’s normally a country thing, not a company thing. It’s an amazing achievement.” -Elon Musk
*”When you’re brainstorming you have to accept wild ideas.” -Jeff Bezos
*Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
*“Day 2 is stasis, followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.” -Jeff Bezos
*“We all have passions. You don’t get to choose them, they pick you. But you have to be alert to them. You have to be looking for them. And when you find your passion, it’s a fantastic gift for you because it gives you direction. It gives you purpose. You can have a job. You can have a career. Or you can have a calling.” -Jeff Bezos
“If everybody else is going broke, that simply means your competition is going away.” -Andy Beal
Should You Read The Space Barons?
If you really love space I’d say go for it. If you’re a fan of Elon Musk and SpaceX, Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin, or Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic go for it. It’s a very quick read and has some things you probably never knew before.
The Negative: I did not get much I already didn’t know about SpaceX and about how all three of these billionaires run their businesses. So if you’re purely looking for a book with advice you could apply to your own business I wouldn’t recommend it. I personally read The Space Barons out of curiosity and because I’m a fan of space.
BONUS: There are tons of Star Trek references! I learned that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are both hardcore fans of the whole franchise.
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