Space tourism rivalry gets extremely petty ahead of Branson’s spaceflight

Space tourism rivalry gets extremely petty ahead of Branson’s spaceflight


As Richard Branson (left) prepares for his flight to space, the rivalry between his space company Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, owned byJeff Bezos (right) is heating up. | Left: Bloomberg / Getty Images, Right: Alex Wong / Getty Images

A PR war between two billionaire-owned space companies, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, is starting to get spicy.

Ever since Virgin announced it’d try to fly its founder Branson to space nine days before Bezos flies on his own rocket, Blue Origin has been on a warpath to discredit Virgin’s suborbital spaceplane, publicly attacking everything from the vehicle’s peak altitude to the size of its windows. Blue Origin’s CEO Bob Smith wished Branson well after Virgin’s announcement, but alleged he’s not really going to space — “they’re not flying above the Kármán line and it’s a very different experience.”

The Kármán line, 62 miles above ground, is the boundary of space recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique…

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