NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted seven Earth-sized planets orbiting around a single star. Most importantly, three of those planets are in the habitable zone, which encompasses "the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water."
At 40 light-years or 235 trillion miles from Earth, these planets are relatively close to us. And with NASA's space shuttles retiring this year and private space flight becoming more of a reality with companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX, your nerd dreams of making space your ultimate luxury vacation frontier will probably happen in your lifetime. It's just a matter of affording it.
Let's take a look at six companies competing for a slice of space exploration. Larger engineering companies like Lockheed Martin (LMT) - Get Report and Boeing (BA) - Get Report are also throwing their hat into the ring for commercial space exploration and it'll be interesting to see which company ultimately benefits the most from interplanetary traveling.
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Spaceship names: Dragon Spacecraft and Falcon 9 Rocket
Crazy wealthy backer: Elon Musk of Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report
Fun fact: The company's cargo craft just failed to dock with the space station!
Spaceship names: Cygnus and Taurus 2 rocket
Backer: Orbital Sciences (ORB) , a publicly traded company
Fun fact: Was just awarded a $78.18 million contract to "provide integration and testing services for the space test program satellite-6 (STPSat-6) through August 2021."
Spaceship names: Sundancer and BA-330
Crazy wealthy backer: Robert Bigelow of Budget Suisse
Fun fact: For the last 16 years, they company has been advancing inflatable habitat technology.
SpaceDev/Sierra Nevada Corp.
Spaceship Name: Dream Chaser
Backing: Sierra Nevada Corp., of Sparks, Nev.
Fun fact: NASA selected the company for anticipated cargo missions to fly between 2019 and 2024.
Spaceship Name: SpaceShipTwo
Crazy wealthy backer: Richard Branson, founder of VirginGroup
Fun fact: The company charges $250,000 a person for membership in the Future Astronauts program and a trip to space.