In the modern 21st century Space Race, there is a clear leader. SpaceX has captured the imagination of the public like nothing since the early days of the shuttle program, when people stopped their day to watch launches by the millions. The repeated success of SpaceX rockets to take off and then, amazingly, land safely to fly another day has mesmerized the public, giving the company a significant lead in the race to be the space transport and exploration company of the future.

But don’t count out the competition quite yet. Especially when that competition is helmed by Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos. His commercial space company, Blue Origin, may be lagging at present, but the company is working hard to make up lost ground, both in the commercial sense and in the hearts and minds of a newly-interested public.

Blue Origin recently celebrated the ninth flight of its New Shepard rocket, a signature event, though it did not manage to grab the attention of many similar SpaceX launches. What did make the news was one of the primary reasons for the flight. Blue Origin is working on its vehicle escape system in anticipation of the company’s first human space flight, a step many in the company believe is relatively imminent.

The flight ascended from the company’s West Texas test facility on a mission to determine how feasible it would be to carry passengers away to safety in the case of an in-flight emergency.

How soon does Blue Origin anticipate its ability to start booking commercial space flight? According to recent news reports, the company hopes to start taking tourists on “short space flights” as soon as next year… exciting news and an imminent deadline that should certainly fill headlines.

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Of course, Blue Origin is not the only company making similar promises. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic already has a signup list going for people interesting in being among the first civilians in space. A seat on one of those flights can be purchased for about $250,000. Blue Origin hasn’t released a price list quite yet, though the company did say its most recent flight was about more than just passenger safety.

According to a Blue Origin release, the flight also conducted a number of experiments, as well as testing the ability of accessing WiFi in space. The purveyor of those tests? A flight dummy the company calls “Mannequin Skywalker,” which, if not headlining a press release, is definitely a missed opportunity.

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder & Chairman of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently owned PR firms in the United States. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth and vision, with the agency earning accolades including being named a Top 50 Global PR Agency by PRovoke Media, a top three NYC PR agency by O'Dwyers, one of Inc. Magazine's Best Workplaces and being awarded multiple American Business Awards, including a Stevie Award for PR Agency of the Year. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected public relations executives. Throughout his career he has advised leading and high-growth businesses, organizations, leaders and boards across corporate, technology and consumer industries. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications. He has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly in the media and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. Torossian's strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, a Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a recipient of Crain's New York Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Outside of 5W, Torossian serves as a business advisor to and investor in multiple early stage businesses across the media, B2B and B2C landscape. Torossian is the proud father of two daughters. He is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of multiple not for profit organizations.