1. Elon Musk
The founder of Tesla and former CEO of Paypal, Musk is worth approximately US$20 billion. SpaceX, which he founded in 2002, designs, manufactures and launches rockets and spacecraft. Its core business is launching satellites and transporting cargo to the ISS for Nasa. Currently, SpaceX is refining its Dragon capsule to enable it to fly people to the ISS, with the first manned test flight expected within six months to a year.
But the ultimate goal? To dramatically reduce the cost of space travel by developing reusable booster rockets and capsules, with the ultimate goal of making us a “multi-planetary species.” Musk wants to colonise Mars to protect the human race from extinction.
See also: Rocket Men: Elon Musk, SpaceX
2. Jeff Bezos
Having surpassed Bill Gates as the world's wealthiest person, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is worth a cool US$150 billion. He sells US$1 billion a year in Amazon stock to fund Blue Origin, an aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company which he one day hopes will offer suborbital space tourism to paying customers. He's also working to build larger rockets to deliver payloads into space.
To date, Blue Origin has completed work for Nasa on several small development contracts, and has yet to launch anything for a paying customer. Bezos' is long-term vision is to facilitate millions of people living and working in the cosmos in a bid to “save Earth.”
See also: Rocket Men: Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin
3. Richard Branson
Richard Branson is worth an estimated US$5.1 billion, accrued across his conglomerate of Virgin businesses. One of the the latest is a venture into space tourism, Virgin Galactic, which will take travellers as far as the Karman line that lies 100 kilometres above the Earth’s surface and constitutes the boundary between its atmosphere and outer space.
The company has had a few hiccups, to say the least, but Branson is determined. “It will be something like two or three more flights before we’re actually in space,” said Branson in May this year. Stay tuned.