THE BIG READ | My rocket is bigger than yours! Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk's galactic rivalry

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Two of the world’s richest men's 15 year long quarrel escalates (Photo: Getty and Gallo images)
Two of the world’s richest men's 15 year long quarrel escalates (Photo: Getty and Gallo images)

The stairway to the heavens starts in Texas. In 2003 a young Elon Musk was scouting for a suitable location to fulfil his dream of becoming a space pioneer. He had started Space Exploration Technologies Corp – SpaceX for short – with the aim of building rockets and one day sending humans to the moon, or even Mars.  

First, though, he had to find somewhere to carry out the noisy and dangerous job of rocket testing. The wide open spaces of free-wheeling Texas, where folk are more relaxed about firearms and explosives, provided the perfect solution. There, amid the rattlesnakes and fire ants and searing heat, Musk set to work. 

At the same time, 800 kilometres across the state, another American entrepreneur was looking for a place to indulge his own space flight ambitions. Jeff Bezos had set up his space company, Blue Origin, two years before Musk’s, but he had been sidetracked by problems at Amazon, his internet shopping business that came close to bankruptcy in 2002. 

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