When Elon Musk announced the launch of SpaceX ($SPACEX) in 2002, comparisons to Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin ($BLUEORIGIN) surfaced seemingly within seconds, and a private space war was born. As both companies engage in their own space race, and compete for private and government launch contracts, they've both been on hiring sprees virtually since the day they were born.

Blue Origin's head start remains intact, and is manifested in its hiring patterns that have shown the company adding more people at any one time than SpaceX. But that lead, at least according to trends we're now seeing with enough data, may end in the next year or two.

At the end of September, Blue Origin was hiring for 563 openings compared to 435 for SpaceX. While that's 29% more hiring, a look at hiring trends over time reveal that SpaceX is outpacing Blue Origin in terms of adding new jobs, and points to a future in which Elon Musk and co could one day outgrow Jeff Bezos and friends.

Of course, in order to do that, SpaceX will need to continue to pick up new contracts and missions from both the private and government sectors. It's also making headway with its low-orbit broadband constellation Starlink, which should begin generating revenue for the company in the coming years.

This week, NASA's Flight Opportunities program selected 25 space technologies to potentially be used in the outer reaches. Blue Origin, the private space company started by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, will be involved in 11 of those 25.

NASA also awarded $10 million to Blue Origin to work on a ground-based hydrogen and liquefication and storage technology in order to produce and store liquid rocket propellant on the Moon as a way of setting up a launch station there.

These awards and grants outpace $3 million given to Elon Musk's SpaceX, which received a smaller grant to work on refueling nozzles. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: