The 21st Century Race for Space • 2017

Category: Astronomy

A new age of space exploration, and exploitation, is dawning. But surprisingly, some of the boldest efforts at putting humans into space are now those of private companies started by a handful of maverick billionaire businessmen. Brian Cox gains exclusive access behind the scenes at Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and Spaceport America, exploring what is really happening in privately financed space flight right now. From space tourism to asteroid mining, and even dreams of colonies on Mars, these new masters of the universe refuse to limit their imaginations. But are private companies led by Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk really going to be able to pull this off? How will they overcome the technical challenges to achieve it? And is it really a good idea, or just a fool's errand? Cox meets key players in the story - Bezos, founder of Blue Origin as well as Amazon, and Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic. He wants to find out how entrepreneurs - and engineers - really plan to overcome the daunting challenges of human space travel. It certainly hasn't been easy so far. Jeff Bezos has sold a further billion dollars of Amazon stock this year to fund Blue Origin. Branson has been working on Galactic for more than a decade. Lives have been lost. And some companies have already all but given up. But real progress has been made too. The origins of the new space boom, the X-prize in 2004, proved that reusable space craft could be built by private enterprise. Now the challenge is to work out how to run reliable, safe, affordable services that will show a return on the massive financial investments. Sixteen years since Dennis Tito became the first civilian in space, Cox explores the hardware and companies that are aiming to make daily tourist flights to space. Beyond mass space travel, and even space mining and manufacturing, the dream of Elon Musk and others is true space exploration. His company, SpaceX, already delivers supplies to the International Space Station, and their next step is delivering astronauts too. But their true ambition is to ensure the survival of the human race by crossing our solar system and colonizing Mars in the next decade. Could commercial spaceflight companies eventually make us a space-faring civilization?

You might also like


Nikolai Vavilov risked his life for a discovery that would change the history of science.

4/13Cosmos: Possible Worlds • 2020 • Astronomy

The Secret History of the Moon

The Moon has drawn out our sense of wonder since before we were fully human. Where did it come from? What secrets are written in its rocks? For most of our history, its story was cloaked in myth and mystery. Only now are the vivid details coming into focus.

melodysheep • 2020 • Astronomy

The Mistery of the Milky Way

NOVA examines how a simple instrument, the telescope, has fundamentally changed our understanding of our place in the universe. What began as a curiosity—two spectacle lenses held a foot apart—ultimately revolutionized human thought across science, philosophy, and religion. "Hunting the Edge of Space" takes viewers on a global adventure of discovery, dramatizing the innovations in technology and the achievements in science that have marked the rich history of the telescope.

1/2Hunting the Edge of Space • 2012 • Astronomy

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

From the birth of the devil in ancient Persia, where a beloved family dog becomes a seething beast, to a searing story of saintliness among macaque monkeys, join an exploration into the human potential for change. One of history's greatest monsters is transformed into one of its shining lights.

11/13Cosmos: Possible Worlds • 2020 • Astronomy

Saturn's Moon Titan - Another Earth?

Even with a surface temperature of -180C, Saturn's moon, Titan, could be another Earth. There's evidence of dunes made of quantities of organic material that could contain the building blocks for DNA. Astrobiologists are conducting studies on the possibility that life could be present on Titan.

12Cosmic Front • 2014 • Astronomy

Moon Landing Special

To celebrate the Apollo moon landing's 50th anniversary, Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain travel to where the historic Apollo 11 mission began – Cape Canaveral in Florida. They hear first hand from astronaut general Charlie Duke what it was like to guide Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the Moon in the Lunar Lander and how he followed in their footsteps three years later. They also look at the most exciting new developments and, with privileged access, they broadcast from the top of launch tower that is being prepared for crewed missions and from the assembly line of a spacecraft factory. They are joined by astrophysicist and medic Dr Kevin Fong and mathematician Dr Hannah Fry, who explore the latest developments in human space flight - from cutting-edge spacewalk technology to a future Mars buggy.

2019 • Astronomy