You’d think that Elon Musk and Richard Branson would hold grudges against each other when they both have space tourism plans, but that’s not true — if anything, they’re surprisingly buddy-buddy. Virgin Galactic told the Wall Street Journal in a statement that Musk bought a ticket aboard the company’s air-launched rockets. It’s not certain just where the SpaceX founder is in the queue, but it’s safe to say his ride will garner some attention. The feeling is mutual. In an interview with the Sunday Times, Branson said Musk was a “friend” and suggested he might fly on a SpaceX ship “one day.” He even went so far as to tweet a photo showing him and Musk together.
Just don’t expect that kind of warmth and camaraderie from Jeff Bezos. Blue Origin was more than a little eager to trash-talk Virgin ahead of its first fully crewed spaceflight, claiming that Branson and team were merely brushing the edge of space. While the company later wished Branson a “great flight,” we wouldn’t expect Bezos and Branson to have heart-to-heart coffee chats any time soon.
It’s not a complete shock that Branson and Musk would be so cozy. However well their personalities mesh, the two aren’t quite direct competitors. Virgin Galactic is aimed primarily at space tourists content with suborbital flights, while Virgin Orbit is focused on launching satellites for outfits that can’t justify expensive conventional rockets. SpaceX, meanwhile, has focused its tourism efforts on lunar flybys and usually carries costlier payloads into space. This isn’t to say the two execs will start feuding if their businesses truly overlap — just don’t count on the positive vibes lasting forever.