Just last week we speculated that Jeff Bezos – who is due to fly to the edge of space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20th – would beat rival Richard Branson to the punch.
Now however, Virgin Galactic has announced that it will be launching its next flight of VSS Unity (with Branson aboard) on July 11th – a full 9 days earlier.
It’s the latest development in what can only be described as space tourism’s answer to the space race – with both Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin vying to launch their respective flights before the other.
Even now, however, things are not set in stone – bad weather on Sunday for instance could scupper’s Branson’s launch, potentially giving Bezos a chance to make it to the edge of space before him.
It’s also possible that Bezos will reschedule to an earlier date.
Whoever ultimately wins – it will mark the beginning of a whole new era of spaceflight, with private firms offering relatively affordable seats to (albeit wealthy) civilian passengers.
Eventually, as competition increases, prices could come down to the point where even regular members of the public will be able to catch a glimpse of our planet from far above.
For both Bezos and Branson – it’s a chance to put their names firmly in the history books.