July has been an exciting month for space – or space tourism specifically. Two billionaires, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, went up through their respective companies – Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.

I watched both live – and I had to say that Branson was much better at story telling, from the letter to her mum to arriving on the launch site in bicycle…

… from hiring Stephen Colbert to making a speech from ‘space’, and more.

The whole episode was very well choreographed and certainly very entertaining.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX went on site to support …

I enjoyed the show, but somehow I was not so sure about how scalable the technology is, where you have to rely on multiple pilots to operate two planes – and the journey looked long, compared to the actual time spent ‘in space’.

I was joking to a friend that maybe it is time to short Virgin Galactic stocks. (I do not short stocks).

The next day, Virgin Galactic’s share price dropped almost 18%.

What happened?

On the day itself, there was a lot of buzz about Blue Origin being petty, as it issued a feature comparison between itself and Virgin Galactic. We all know that when you fail to inspire with your product, you compare by features right?

However, you only need to watch the Blue Origin’s New Shepherd mission to find out:

The whole journey, which went very smoothly, lasted barely a bit more than 10 minutes, ending with a very soft landing:

A friend of mine exclaimed, when the rocket was blasting off: “Wow Bezos is going away from earth!” A few minutes later, he posted again on his WeChat moment: “What, Bezos is already back on earth?”

Superior technology 

It is no doubt a much more superior technology, one which is much more scalable, compared to that of Virgin Galactic.

Now there is no doubt that, in addition to the ego, there was a much more practical reason for Branson to have to go to space ahead of Bezos.

If Blue Origin did its stunt first, Virgin Galactic would have looked rather dull.

Nonetheless, there is a long road ahead. Both need to prove commercial viability, and explore further in space. Blue Origin is certainly ahead in terms of technology, but who knows?

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at hello@mworks.asia.

 

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Jianggan Li is the Founder & CEO of Momentum Works. Prior to founding Momentum Works, he co-founded Easy Taxi in Asia, and served as Managing Director of Foodpanda. The two years running Rocket Internet companies has given him a lifetime experience on supersonic implementation, and good camaraderie with entrepreneurs across the developing world. He holds a MBA from INSEAD (GMAT 770) and a degree in Computer Engineering from Nanyang Technological University. Unfortunately he never wrote a single line of code professionally - but in his first job he was in media, travelling extensively across Asia & Europe, speaking with Ministers & (occasionally) Prime Ministers. Apart from English and his native Mandarin, he is also fluent in French and conversational in Cantonese & Spanish. He tried to learn Latin (for three years) and Sanskrit (for six months) as well. In his (scarce) free time, he reads, travels, hikes and dives. Pyongyang, Tehran & Chisinau are among the interesting cities he has been to.