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Photo: Courtesy Stratolaunch Systems

IN CASE YOU MISSED the big announcement in December, Paul Allen says he’s going to build a Star Trek–ian ship for commercial flights to space. Which is pretty awesome. What’s less awesome is that the project, called Stratolaunch, won’t blast off until at least 2016.

In the meantime, keep an eye on Space Exploration Technologies. The Silicon Valley startup founded by Tesla Motors mogul Elon Musk is, for all intents and purposes, a rival of Stratolaunch in the private space race, but Musk has agreed to supply Allen with tech for his project. And this February, SpaceX, as it’s known, plans to send its own rocket to dock with the International Space Station. Its success—or lack of success—will say a lot about whether Allen hitched his wagon to the right star cruiser.