Forbes has put out its list of the world’s 1,210 billionaires, a half dozen of whom have ties to the New Space community.
|24||Sergey Brin||37||$19.8||Google Lunar X Prize, Prospective billionaut|
|24||Larry Page||37||$19.8||Google Lunar X Prize|
|30||Jeff Bezos||47||$18.1||Amazon||Blue Origin|
|57||Paul Allen||58||$13.0||Microsoft||SpaceShipOne, SETI telescope array|
|254||Richard Branson||60||$4.2||Virgin Group||Virgin Galactic|
|459||Guy Laliberte||51||$2.5||Cirque du Soleil||Billionaut visitor to ISS|
All six billionaires are males from North America and Britain with a combined net worth of $77.4 billion. The most prominent of them — Richard Branson — has the second lowest net worth of the group. His company, Virgin Galactic, is undertaking the most expensive New Space project to date at a cost of more than $400 million.
I could not find Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi sheikh who invested $280 million in Virgin Galactic through Aabar Investments. Forbes listed him as having a net worth of $4.9 billion in 2009, but he does not appear this year.
How much Jeff Bezos has spent on Blue Origin is secret, along with almost everything else about his suborbital New Shepard vehicle. Last week, SwRI’s Alan Stern said that the five U.S. suborbital companies represented more than $1 billion in investment. It’s likely that Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin make up the bulk of that funding, given their billionaire backers. Armadillo Aerospace, Masten Space Systems and XCOR don’t have nearly that much funding.
Neither Elon Musk, who is backing SpaceX, nor Robert Bigelow, whose Bigelow Aerospace is developing private space stations, appears on the list. I also could not find Dennis Tito, the NASA engineer turned investment guru who became the first space tourist 10 years ago.
The Forbes list includes 1,210 billionaires with a net worth of $4.5 trillion, the highest totals ever. So, there are a lot of potential investors out there to tap. The step is to actually fly into space. Do that, and this list could get a lot longer.