Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, and Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, are the billionaires who are in a race to launch space tourism for the masses, investing hundreds of millions of their own money in the enterprise that could see civilians fly into outer space. Here are the facts you need to know:
#1 Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Developments
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic performed a test flight of the Spacecraft SpaceShipTwo this month as a second test vehicle to fly, after the disastrous crash that killed a pilot and injured the other.
Modifications include: an improvement in aerodynamics and a rubber-based fuel system that offers a lighter rocket engine.
Although his ambitions have been tested with the violent crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo on 31 October 2014, Branson remain determined.
He wrote on his blog, “As I traveled from my home to Mojave that Friday evening, I found myself questioning seriously for the first time, whether in fact it was right to be backing the development of something that could result in such tragic circumstances.”
“From the designers, the builders, the engineers, the pilots and the whole community who passionately believed — and still believe — that truly opening space and making it accessible and safe is of vital importance to all our futures.”
#2 Bezos Aims to Send People to Space by End 2020
Due to NASA’s funding declining since 1966, this has resulted in wealthy entrepreneurs investing their own millions into space exploration, launching the enterprising tourism industry.
Bezos aims to see, “millions of people living and working in space,” with his spaceflight company, Blue Origin.
With the announcement of a new design for the orbital rocket, a more powerful structure, Bezos is seen as a powerful contender.
The New Glenn rocket, powered by seven BE-4 engines, comes in two variants: a two stage and three stage, ready to fly by 2020.
#3 Musk’s Ambitions Lies Within Mars
Musk wants to send an unmanned capsule to conduct experiments on Mars by 2018, before landing humans on the red planet by 2025.
Musk has ambitions to create “a self-sustaining city with the objective of being a multi-planet species.”
His startup SpaceX landed a reusable rocket in April on a robot-controlled floating platform. This makes it less expensive to send people beyond the atmosphere.
Although there is some technical support offered by Nasa, SpaceX was largely in control of the mission.
#4 Is Space Tourism Worth the Costs?
Stephen Attenborough, CEO of Virgin Galactic, founded in 2004 said:
“Space tourism has definitely arrived,” adding, “The market is established. The vehicles are flying. It’s not a paper project.”
Tickets to outer space will cost $200,000 with Virgin Galactic, which was the first space-travel company to send a private citizen into space in 2001.
The cost of space travel may decline after technological development in the future. Experts claim that within 10 years you could pay $50,000 for space travel.
Despite these predictions Attenborough has stated that the space tourism industry is profitable.
Impressive facts include an 80,000 people who have registered interest, with Virgin Galactic taking $50 million in deposits.
They have received funding from Aabar, an Abu Dhabi-based global-investment company, adding $280 million into the business, receiving a 32% return share.
#5 Developments and the Future of Space Tourism
Bezos and Musk launched computer-controlled booster rockets that re-landed on Earth this year, which has been unsuccessful in the past.
The breakthrough is encouraging, suggesting that the $90 million rockets can be used again for other missions.
Bezos wants to relocate energy in space “to save Earth” from climate change
He has made predictions that “Earth will be zoned residential and light industrial.”
Richard Branson is launching a new spaceplane called Unity that he is testing in order to overcome safety issues that resulted in a crash in 2014.
Space Adventures CEO Anderson said, “We’re not going to be visiting space hotels on the moon for $10,000 in the next ten years,” adding, “But we might be within the next 50 years.”