Freed from Amazon, Jeff Bezos plans space race

A new space race is set for blast off.

But this time it's not America versus Russia... it's the world's two richest men going toe to toe.

Industry sources say Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is set to focus more on his Blue Origin rocket business - with a view to putting progress into hyperdrive.

The space launch company has fallen far behind competitor SpaceX.

It's run by arch-rival Elon Musk, now the only man richer than Bezos.

Blue Origin was beaten to billions of dollars in U.S. contracts by the Tesla founder's firm.

Now Bezos may have the time to change that.

Last week he said he was stepping down as boss of the online giant to focus on personal projects.

That's sure to include Blue Origin, which he has called his most important work.

Bezos has been liquidating a billion dollars of his Amazon stock every year to fund the project.

Now the focus is NASA's planned return to the moon.

Blue Origin hopes the space agency will choose its design for a lunar lander.

Winning is seen as critical to the firm's credibility, and its prospects for eventual profitability.

But time is tight, with NASA due to winnow the list of possible contractors down to two by the end of April.

Whatever happens, in the longer term Bezos is thinking bigger.

Way bigger:

"So, my long term prediction and this is going to take hundreds of years, so don't worry prematurely, Earth will end up being zoned residential and light industry, and all the heavy industry will be done in space."

That's for the future though.

Right now, there's a space race to be won.

And neither Jeff Bezos nor Elon Musk is known to enjoy coming second.