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Here's how you can profit from the race to Mars

The next space race is officially on, and author Stephen Petranek is betting Tesla’s billionaire CEO Elon Musk will win.

In the video above, the author of “How We’ll Live on Mars,” tells me that private companies like Musk’s SpaceX can get to space faster and cheaper than government agencies like NASA. He adds that Musk has a 10-year lead on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space program.

Both men want to send humans to Mars and have made it a priority to develop reusable rockets, which could significantly cut the cost of spaceflight.

Bezos’ New Shepard rocket is “an amusement park ride at this point that nobody’s ever been on,” says Petranek. He points out that Musk’s SpaceX is already in space re-supplying the International Space Station every year with about six launches.

While the two billionaires are in a race to be the first to colonize the Red Planet, the US government would like to see NASA win that race. This month, Congress approved a bill that authorizes $19.5 billion in spending for the government agency in 2017. That’s a $208 million increase from 2016.

The bill asks for a human mission “near or on the surface of Mars in the 2030s” and that the space agency position the US as “a thriving space economy in the 21st century.” Now it’s up to President Donald Trump to sign the bill into law.

For investors, Petranek calls space exploration “the new frontier.” He believes the best opportunities won’t be in space tourism, but rather in the smaller companies that are building satellites and providing support to the industry.

He says companies, including Orbitel ATK, Ball Aerospace, Loral Space & Communications as well as Canada-based MDA, are well positioned to benefit as the race to space heats up.