Story at a glance

  • Two billionaire CEOs are reportedly engaged in a modern-day space race.
  • Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos announced on Monday that he planned to exit the Earth’s atmosphere July 20 with his brother aboard New Shepard, a rocket built by Bezos’s company, Blue Origin.
  • Now, according to reports picked up by the London Sun, Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson aims to launch into outer space on July 4.

Two billionaire tech executives are reportedly engaged in a modern-day space race. 

Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos announced on Monday that he planned to exit the Earth’s atmosphere July 20 with his brother aboard New Shepard, a rocket built by Bezos’s company, Blue Origin. 

Now, according to reports picked up by the London Sun, Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson aims to launch into space on July 4. But Virgin Galactic has not confirmed or denied reports, The Sun reported. 

When asked by Ars Technica about the rumored flight, Virgin Galactic said in a statement that the company is in the “process of analyzing the data” from its “successful May 22nd flight” but plans to take flights in the near future.

"As previously announced, we expect to complete the final test flights this summer through to early fall,” the statement continued. “At this time, we have not determined the date of our next flight."

The Sun reported that Virgin Galactic still needs authorization to make a July 4 launch possible, which would include obtaining a license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to launch the VSS Unity — a rocket that can fit two pilots and six passengers. 

Laura Forczyk, founder of space consulting firm Astralytical, told Investor’s Business Daily that a flight carrying Branson “within the next couple of months” is “extremely unlikely.” 

"They are working toward that reality but their vehicles have experienced difficulties in the past,” Forczyk said. “They will be more concerned about safety than being the first."


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Bezos said in an Instagram post Monday morning that he’s “dreamed of traveling to space” since he was a child. 

"On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend."

The New Shepard will embark on the journey from Van Horn, Texas, roughly two weeks after the end of Bezos’s tenure as Amazon’s CEO. A spot on the spacecraft will be reserved for the winner of a monthlong bidding war, which has seen offers reaching $2.8 million. 

"The winning bid amount will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, whose mission is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and to help invent the future of life in space," Blue Origin said in an announcement.


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Published on Jun 10, 2021