Airdate: Brian Cox: The 21st Century Race For Space

ABC tonight screens Brian Cox: The 21st Century Race For Space in which Cox takes us behind the scenes of privately financed space flight -from space tourism to dreams of colonies on Mars.

This special screened in the UK last September.

A new age of space exploration, and exploitation, is dawning. Some of the boldest efforts at putting humans into space are now those of private companies started by maverick billionaire businessmen.

In this program, 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.

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? Is it a good idea, or just a fool’s errand?

Cox meets key players in the story – Bezos (Blue Origin, Amazon) and Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic). He wants to find out how entrepreneurs plan to overcome the daunting challenges of human space travel. 16 years since Dennis Tito became the first civilian in space, Cox explores the companies that are aiming to make daily tourist flights to space.

Beyond mass space travel, and even space mining and manufacturing, the dream of Musk and others is true space exploration. His company, SpaceX, already delivers supplies to the International Space Station, and their next step is to deliver astronauts. But their true ambition is to ensure the survival of the human race by colonizing Mars. Could commercial spaceflight eventually make us a space-faring civilization?

8:30pm tonight on ABC.

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