New Space Race: Elon Musk vs. Jeff Bezos

From harassment to space exploration: what is the secret of Elon Musk's success

We are witnessing the start of the next big space race. But this time it is not the USA against the USSR. It's a race between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. The aerospace industry has always been driven by competition. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh competed with eight other teams to fly the first non-stop transatlantic flight and win the $ 25,000 Orteig Prize. In the 1960s, it was the race of America and the Soviet Union that led to the appearance of Sputnik, the flight of Yuri Gagarin and Apollo 11.

But fast forward 40 years. In 2004, the $ 10 million Ansari XPRIZE competition sparked the commercial space industry. And today, in 2019, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, a competition flares up that will take people into space on rockets. The struggle unfolds between two desperate and talented billionaires: Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

Let's assess the capabilities and vision of each of them.

Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin

"Do we want stagnation and rationing or do we want dynamism and growth?" - Jeff Bezos

Despite the fact that Jeff has always been a passionate space enthusiast, instead of pursuing aerospace activities, he first went to Wall Street, founded Amazon, which eventually brought him personal capital exceeding $ 150 billion dollars.

Today, Jeff remains true to his passion for space, donating $ 1 billion annually to support his space company Blue Origin (in honor of Earth).

History of Blue Origin

Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 with the goal of creating "a future in which millions of people live and work in space." Of course, the first step for any serious space company is to build rockets capable of launching humans and payloads from Earth into space. In this category, Jeff has planned to launch more and more rockets.

The first of these vehicles is named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard. New Shepard is a Blue Origin suborbital rocket designed for suborbital space tourism. After 10 successful successive launches and landings by the end of 2019, New Shepard is expected to deliver its first human astronauts to suborbital space.

The next spacecraft is the New Glenn rocket (named after astronaut John Glenn), which will be able to lift significant cargo and people to the moon. Like SpaceX's Falcon 9, New Glenn is designed for reusable vertical landing. Blue Origin hopes to launch a New Glenn rocket in 2021.

In May 2019, during a presentation at the Air and Space Museum, Bezos unveiled Blue Origin's short-term mission to colonize the moon for exploration, scientific missions, and resource utilization. Bezos sees the moon as an incredible gift to our space species that will help humanity and space entrepreneurs discover the space economy.

New Space Race: Elon Musk vs. Jeff Bezos

The launch of Elon Musk's super-heavy rocket had a global deafening effect with its spectacularity. The mannequin in the roadster, the Bowie track, the synchronously landed blocks of the first stage - all this gave the impression of a fantastic show. The Hollywood scale of the production gave great pleasure to all Musk fans, but (and this was also the goal in a sense) it overshadowed the true business scale of what happened.

To begin with, Elon Musk is perceived by the general public as a daring dreamer who dreams of resettling humanity to Mars. Skillfully warming up the image of a moderately crazy, moderately pragmatic entrepreneur, Musk focuses global attention on himself and capitalizes it extremely effectively. However, let's carefully read, in what, in fact, did he put his own first $ 100 million in the distant 2006? Did the word Mars sound there? Yes, but rather as a curiosity. From the first day, the company's goal was a great and extremely pragmatic goal - the space Internet, distributed globally to all mankind.

The idea of ​​a low-orbit internet immediately captured the minds of Silicon Valley's most discerning investors. Already 10-15 years ago, they understood that humanity needs a single global network infrastructure, accessible both in the metropolis and in the desert. And although the whole HYIP with the Internet of Things and total robotization was still in its infancy, it was clear that putting the key communications infrastructure into space was a megaproject.

The technical parameters were also calculated right away, in particular, it became clear that it would be impossible to hang up convenient geostationary satellites, of which a dozen are needed for global coverage, alas. For too long the signal will travel in space, and the ping will exceed all reasonable values. Such a delay is unacceptable neither for industrial use, nor for transport, and even more so for massive computer games and social networks. Therefore, it became clear that the space Internet will be low-orbit, and therefore, there should be hundreds and even thousands of satellites!

Where does SpaceX get the money?

The first investors after Musk were his former PayPal partner Peter Thiel through his famous Founders Fund, as well as the legendary Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Steve Yurvetson was the first to "see the Mask" and was one of the first investors in his projects - SpaceX and Tesla. He, by the way, is one of the authors of the "electronic state" in Estonia, the owner of an electronic passport No. 1.

Over the next years, in 9 rounds, SpaceX has already attracted $ 1.6 billion in capital investments (and this is not counting grants and other money, primarily from NASA and other government organizations). And among the investors, almost the entire elite of Silicon Valley. And the current valuation of the company has already reached $ 21 billion.

In the penultimate round of $ 1 billion, the investor was Google, which so far has made the largest contribution to the LEO project. And the project is developing at full speed! It is planned that it will begin to generate income of $ 5 billion already in 2020, and by 2025 it will grow to $ 35 billion! This, by the way, means that a group of thousands of satellites (different numbers are called, from 2200 to 4000 satellites) should be massively launched in the period until 2020. And as we can see, the deadlines are generally being met. With a possible shift of one or two years.

Following SpaceX, the British project OneWeb, backed by Richard Branson and the California giant Qualcomm, announced projects of this magnitude, as well as Samsung and Chinese space companies. The number of satellites launched in these constellations is amazing - according to the latest data, OneWeb plans to launch 640 satellites that will be deployed in just a few years (plans are constantly floating, but it is expected that this will happen no later than 2020). By the way, for a long time the main "workhorse" for the withdrawal of this constellation was planned to be the Russian "Unions". At the moment, OneWeb has raised $ 1.7 billion in three rounds of investments, the largest investor is the famous SoftBank, which invested $ 1.2 billion in 2016.

At one time, Samsung announced a project to launch 4,600 satellites by 2028, which will also become a massive space project. The parameters of the Chinese group have not been announced, but they will also be very ambitious.

Heavenly Wi-Fi

What do we see? Of all the announced projects, only Elon Musk's project implies that he will use his own carriers to launch the satellite constellation. Therefore, by the way, we have less information about his project - he does not need to contract launches in advance (although in documents leaked in the WSJ we see plans to launch 50 Falcon 9s per year, that is, almost weekly launches for three years!). In other words, the space Internet infrastructure requires an order of magnitude more launches than the entire current space industry.

We are witnessing the start of the next big space race. But this time it is not the USA against the USSR. It's a race between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Aerok ...

SpaceX has postponed the first tourist flights around the moon for a year. People who have already paid money for the trip will not fly anywhere either in the originally promised 2017 or in 2018. Elon promises to fulfill the obligations only next year. Super.

This is far from the first or even the second disrupted SpaceX deadline. An entire website has already been dedicated to Ilona's unfulfilled promises - there are dozens of them.

Some are especially outraged that, in addition to investor money, Musk's companies also burn taxpayers' money. The total amount of state and municipal subsidies for Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity (Tesla's solar panel division) exceeds $ 15 billion. This is a lot.

Few people were worshiped as intensely during their lifetime as Elon Musk. His name is practically not mentioned in a negative context, and in the mass consciousness the Tesla founder stands next to Edison and Ford. A miracle is expected from, and so patiently that they turn a blind eye even to obvious failures.

Another postponement of deadlines shows that in fact, Musk's "legendary" is not based on achievements. Elon is a master of suggestion, he masterfully forms a likeable public image.

When you look at the actual results, the bloat becomes apparent.

Elon Musk hasn't done anything really massive

If popularity is a bad sign when evaluating achievements in art, then in business there can be no other criterion. Henry Ford made mass personal transport, Thomas Edison brought electricity to every home. Steve Jobs popularized personal computers, graphical interfaces and made the first truly mainstream smartphone.

The list of Musk's achievements is impressive only at first glance: there are SpaceX, and Tesla, and the Boring Company (a tunnel drilling company).

Companies are very different, but all of Elon Musk's creations have common drawbacks. They are below.


Elon Musk's SpaceX became the first private company to send astronauts into orbit. How did the businessman manage to achieve such success and why the subordinates are not always happy with them?

On May 30, the Crew Dragon spacecraft was launched from the Cape Canaveral launch site to the International Space Station (ISS) with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on board. NASA astronauts went into space on an American spacecraft for the first time since 2011, when the shuttle flight program was terminated.

The developer of Crew Dragon was SpaceX Elon Musk, a 49-year-old citizen of South Africa, Canada and the United States, whose fortune is estimated at $ 39 billion. His success story is a clear example of what can be achieved with perseverance, clear goals and a willingness to take risks.

Bullying classmates

Elon Musk spent his childhood in the capital of South Africa, Pretoria

Elon Musk was born in the capital of South Africa Pretoria in 1971 in the family of model and nutritionist May Musk and engineer Errol Musk. Elon - the eldest of their three children - was an introverted child and spent almost all his free time reading books. On his 10th birthday, he was presented with a computer, and the boy quickly learned to program on it.

With his extraordinary mental abilities, Elon was weak and puny. At school, he was regularly beaten by his classmates: this stopped only in adolescence, when he significantly increased in height and was able to fight back his offenders.

24-year-old millionaire

In the summer of 1995, 24-year-old Musk moved to Silicon Valley and entered graduate school at Stanford University to pursue his studies in applied physics. He studied there, however, for only two days: at that time the Internet boom was just beginning in the United States, and his brother Kimbal came to Elon.

In the early 2000s, Elon Musk became a co-owner of PayPal

The brothers decided to launch their startup - the company Zip2, which was engaged in the development of software for the media. The business proved to be successful, with clients including the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. In 1999, the brothers managed to sell Zip2 to computer maker Compaq for $ 307 million.

In the same year, Elon Musk became one of the founders of X. om - an e-mail payment system. However, just a few months later, the startup had a serious competitor - Confinity, whose office was located in the same building. In March 2000, the two companies merged under the name PayPal, and in October 2002 the shares of the new service were acquired by the eBay online auction for $ 1.5 billion. Elon Musk, whose stake in PayPal was 11.7 percent, thus raised another $ 165 million.

"Humanity needs a spare planet"

It is difficult to say whether the era gives birth to individuals or personalities make an era. Most likely, the truth is somewhere in between. One way or another, we happened to live in an era with a personality, the significance of which is still to be appreciated in the history of science. It's about the American billionaire, venture capitalist and space exploration enthusiast Elon Musk.

Various sources say that Musk began to rave about space at a young age. At least history knows that on the donated first computer, Elon wrote his first game - Blaster, similar to the famous game hit with Atari, Space Invaders. Then came the first commercial success - Musk sold his game for $ 500. This is his whole point: in addition to commercial transactions, investments, investments and capital flows, he is well versed in the technical part of his business. He retained this trait in his adult life.

In the mid-nineties, Elon and his brother founded the company Zip2, which created software for various news agencies. Fed up with this idea, the creators sold the company for $ 308 million, of which 22 went directly to Musk.

With the beginning of the new century, an era of great achievements begins in Musk's life: first, Xcom was founded, which after the merger became the PayPal payment system, and in 2003 - Tesla Motors, sharpened for electric cars. But the subject of today's speculation is Musk's third brainchild, private space company SpaceX.

SpaceX on its way to private space

The original idea behind SpaceX is cheap flights to space. Moreover, the cost should vary within the limits of passenger flights. Spaceships themselves are very expensive, but they are more expensive because most of them cannot be reused.

Musk planned to launch rodents and plant seeds into orbit, but after analyzing the cost of the rocket, he abandoned the idea. An interesting idea was prompted by the analysis of the cost of the entire structure - 70% went to the stage of the launch vehicle, which at the same time was disposable. This means that if you make it reusable, you can fly into space much cheaper. And so it began.

Apart from the main topic, the naming of a project sometimes leads to interesting facts. For example, Apple decided to give its brand a fruity name so that in phone directories it was higher than Atari, Starbucks was named after the character "Moby Dick", and Adobe - after the stream between Mountain View and Palo Alto.

Musk, in his first space brainchild, decided to once again perpetuate his love for Star Wars by naming the Falcon reusable launch vehicle project after Millenium Falcon, in which Chubbaka and Han Solo handed out hot Empires.

In 2002, Musk formed a team, rented a space in El Segundo, California, and began to design, develop and build. One of the prominent engineers hired by SpaceX is Tom Mueller, a rocket engineer who developed the Falcon 1 and three engine families: Merlin, Draco and Kestrel.

The beginning was clearly not set: the first launch of Falcon 1 in March 2006 was unsuccessful, a fire immediately started, and the rocket fell into the water. The second attempt to launch Falcon into orbit also did not lead to the desired result: already in the air, the fuel ceased to flow into the engine, the rocket slowed down and burned up in the atmosphere. The third launch was also unsuccessful: after the separation, the first stage hit the second, and it failed.

You can imagine what feelings took possession of Musk. If there was no particular hope for the success of the first launch, the failure of the second was in incorrect calculations, then SpaceX's engineers and designers were counting very much on the third launch. A payload was even placed on the rocket - three satellites and ashes for burial.

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