Recent events are reminiscent of 1960’s race for the moon which was fueled by fierce cold war competition between the governments of Soviet East and Capitalist West.
Commercially motivated Business tycoons of 21st century are now in a cut throat competition for expanding their private corporate empires above and beyond the Planet’s atmospheric frontiers.
PIONEERS OF SPACE TOURISM
Announcements made by owner of Virgin Group Richard Branson, retired CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos and CEO of Space X Elon Musk about their maiden commercial space tours are trending on tech and science blogs. For clientele with well-lined purses, the promise of literal “out of this world” experience is packaged distinctively for obvious commercial and branding reasons.
Branson’s is offering to take Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft VSS Unity to high altitude by attaching it under the belly of a large carrier plane, where it will be released to reach suborbital space. A group of six space adventurists will be able to experience weightlessness and majestic views of earth’s curvature through 12 large windows for a few minutes before gliding back down to the ground.
As audacious as he is, Branson has planned to join the first group of space adventurists himself. The first commercial space flight of VSS Unity is planned on July 11th, 2021.
In case, you are too accustomed to horizontal thrust, Bezos has just the right adventure ready for you. His Blue Origin’s New Shepard space capsule tied to a space rocket will blast-off vertically with three times the speed of sound until it reaches 100 Km above the mean sea level. Six passengers will be able to experience the space and its beauty through six windows before their capsule glides back down with the help of parachutes.
Much like the now old aviation industry where you get a chance to book the next flight if you miss one. Savvy capitalist Bezos has planned his space flight mere nine days after the Brandon’s i.e. July 20th, 2021.
Competing in this race for space tourism, founder and CEO of Space X Elon Musk is not far behind. Actually, quite the opposite, he is planning for going far beyond. His plans are more venturesome than his competitors in this thriving futuristic industry of space travel.
By the end of this year, Musk has promised to offer for the ones willing to pay and dare a circumlunar tour. Spaceflight participants will leave earths orbital space, enter the lunar orbit and come back to earth after circumventing in the moons orbital space. The whole space flight operation will be pilot free, automated and coordinated from the ground. Participants will experience in peace the awe of space, earth and moon before coming back home on autopilot.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COSTS?
Reading about your fantasies being realized, you may be wondering how much does it costs to have yourself booked for such space flight. How expensive could it be?
They surely are not cheap, you must have already guessed that much. But still, we do like to know the price. For curiosity’s sake take this: Bezos sold ticket for one seat on his Blue Origin suborbital flight in an auction for $28 million US Dollars.
Evidently, space travel is by no means cheap. Is space travel only for billionaires with deep pockets?
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS?
The race between the world powers for achieving superiority over each other in the skies and beyond led to accelerated technological advancement in the aviation industry. Discovery and invention of long range radars for navigation, robust coordination systems, suitable materials and powerful engines are all gifts from that era.
The phrase has already been coined by the famous TV Show host Stephen Colbert “Welcome to a new era of space flight” on a live stream of NBC news.
Era of space travel and exploration has arrived. The contrast from pervious era’s race to the moon is that this time the competition is between the capitalist billionaires not nation-states. The contest is for commercial gains not political. Measure of success is in monetary terms not body count.
With all its positive connotations, the contemporary order of things has made space travel non-egalitarian.
Taking the evolution of aviation industry as reference, it can be assumed that the future holds space travel, exploration and tourism for all humanity.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT?
Which space adventure would you like to embark on, assuming you could afford all in near future, from the three options mentioned in this article?