Two internet billionaires are facing off in a remote part of Texas, both investing billions of dollars into a very secretive race to outer space.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has set up a privately-funded aerospace company called Blue Origin LLC near the small town of Van Horn. Paypal founder Elon Musk has set up his space exploration venture SpaceX in a different part of the state.
Both men have the same goal: to revolutionize space exploration, which has fallen into private hands after the termination of NASA's space shuttle program in 2011.
As the Associated Press noted, the internet billionaires have plenty of cash to accomplish their goal of reaching space.
"SpaceX and Blue Origin are among several U.S. companies engaged in the private space business. Both men have seemingly unlimited resources — Bezos' wealth is estimated at nearly $35 billion, Musk's at $12 billion — and lofty aspirations: launching a new era of commercial space operations, in part by cutting costs through reusable rockets."
So far, the private partnerships have been a boon to NASA. This week, Musk's SpaceX sent a re-supply pod to the International Space Station, which brought supplies along with much-needed items like a new state-of-the-art coffee maker.
NASA has a goal to seek a partner that can send astronauts back to the International Space Station as soon as 2017, which has led the internet billionaires to face off in their Texas space race.
Whether it's Musk or Bezos who comes out on top, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has praised the new partnerships and said they represent the future of space travel and exploration.
"America's best days in space exploration are ahead of us thanks to the grit and determination of those in government, and the private sector, who dare to dream big dreams and have the skills to turn them into reality," Bolden said. "We've ended the outsourcing of space station resupply work and brought those jobs back home to America. The commercial space industry will be an engine of 21st century American economic growth and will help us carry out even more ambitious deep space exploration missions."
While Elon Musk just sent his Dragon supply capsule to the International Space Station, Jeff Bezos is not far behind. His company's new hydrogen rocket engine just completed hundreds of tests and will soon be ready for its maiden flight.
But as the internet billionaires face off, they have also encountered many setbacks. Musk's SpaceX has failed three times to land booster rockets, and Blue Origin also lost a spacecraft after a failed test flight in 2011.
[Image via Wikipedia]