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Expand chart
Data: Signal AI; Chart: Axios Visuals

The public's interest in space coverage has exploded leading up to the historic space race between billionaire space entrepreneurs Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.

Why it matters: Bezos and Branson are both hoping to make space tourism a big business, and their billionaire space race is sparking widespread interest in spaceflight that could ultimately translate into future customers.

Catch up quick: Bezos and Branson both plan to make sub-orbital flights this month aboard rockets built by their respective companies.

  • Branson will make the journey this Sunday. His company, Virgin Galactic, will livestream the trip.
  • Bezos plans to fly to space on July 20.

By the numbers: Not even halfway through July, mentions of the the term "space race" in U.S. articles have ballooned, according to new data from Signal AI provided to Axios — more than tripling the amount of mentions last July.

  • Not surprisingly, this past June, the top two sites receiving traffic from searches related to space were space.com and spacenews.com, per SimilarWeb.

When it comes to name recognition, Bezos' Blue Origin has received a lot more attention this year than its rival — Branson's Virgin Galactic.

  • Since July 2020, Virgin Galactic has received about a third of the number of total social media interactions (325,663) as Blue Origin (1,085,377), per Newswhip.
  • Elon Musk's SpaceX clobbers both, with nearly 3.5 million total social media interactions for the year.

The big picture: Space coverage has historically been pretty niche — something that typically only broke through to the mainstream with big launches, accidents or anniversaries.

  • But today, many news companies have hired designated space reporters, as private spaceflight takes off.
  • For space-specific news outlets, like Seeker, the space race has been a boon for traffic. A spokesperson tells Axios that Seeker has seen twice the amount of views and minutes watched on its video content, compared to the six months prior, as the space race heats up.

What to watch: The space giants are acutely aware of how much the attention wars around this month's space race could impact their businesses. On Friday, Blue Origin tweeted an in-depth infographic explaining why its rockets are better than Virgin Galactic's.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Biden: U.S. combat mission in Iraq will end this year

Biden returning to the White House on July 25. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The United States' combat mission against the Islamic State in Iraq will be completed "by the end of the year," President Biden said Monday prior to a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Why it matters: Biden is close to shifting the U.S. military mission in Iraq to a fully advisory role more than 18 years after combat troops were sent to the country under the former President George W. Bush.

How extreme weather feeds inflation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

This summer's extreme weather is having ripple effects that could raise food prices in the U.S. and disrupt diets around the world.

Why it matters: Climate scientists and food supply experts, like those at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, have long warned about the impact of human-caused global warming on prices, food shortages and hunger.

EA Sports is in expansion mode

EA Sports general manager Daryl Holt (left). Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photos: EA Sports

The biggest player in sports video games has plans to get even bigger — on mobile, in football, maybe even with basketball again — EA Sports general manager Daryl Holt said in an exclusive interview with Axios.

Why it matters: Sports gaming doesn’t get much press, but it’s a surging market with increased competition and lots of players up for grabs.