Commercial Space Flights - How Companies Like Virgin Galactic & More Are Taking Us To Space

First Phase Media
April 26, 2021



Introduction

Space has always been one of the most fascinating fields of study and invention. The new inventions by the efforts of organizations like NASA, Space X, Virgin Galactic have never failed to astound us. And as these new inventions occur, space now has taken a different phase where we humans are all set for the commercial planes to take us on a mesmerizing journey to space. Since October 4, 1957, when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) initiated Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth, humans have been venturing into space. This occurred during the Cold War, a time of political animosity between the Soviet Union and the United States. Space Tourism is divided into types namely Suborbital Tourism and Orbital Tourism. Let us first discuss them in detail.


Suborbital Tourism

In the field of suborbital tourism, two firms compete Virgin Galactic, which went public a couple of years back and trades under the ticker "SPCE," and Blue Origin, a private space corporation nearly completely backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.


Both firms' devices are propelled by rockets and can carry up to six passengers on a trip.


Virgin Galactic has sold roughly 600 seats at rates ranging from $200,000 to $250,000 each, though the firm plans to raise costs significantly for the first commercial flights. Blue Origin has yet to announce ticket prices, but Bezos expects his firm to price flights on New Shepard in line with competitors. 

Because of the exorbitant cost of the flights, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are targeting high-net-worth individuals for their suborbital adventures. Space tourism trips, according to Virgin Galactic's chief space officer George Whitesides, are an "out-of-home luxury experience," which is the fastest-growing segment of the luxury market. And when Blue Origin begins flying people, Whitesides believes both businesses will have enough of demand for trips.


In addition, UBS emphasized how the space tourism market for Virgin Galactic increases as the price falls. According to the company, there are around 1.78 million persons with a net worth of more than $10 million, but almost twice as many with a net worth of $5 million to $10 million – and about 37.1 million with a net worth of $1 million to $5 million.


Orbital Tourism

Unlike suborbital flights, which reach an altitude of approximately 100 kilometers (330,000 feet) and provide passengers with only a few minutes in space, orbital flights reach a height of over 400 kilometers (1.3 million feet) and let passengers spend days or even weeks in space. Too far, orbital space tourism has primarily consisted of a few journeys to the International Space Station on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.


The speed at which a vehicle travels is the fundamental distinction between orbital and suborbital flight. A spacecraft in orbit must attain orbital velocity, but a suborbital rocket must go at a slower speed.


The Budding Space Travel Industry

Space tourism is a developing business that was once considered to be mere science fiction but is now on the verge of becoming a reality. And some firms, including one publicly-traded company, are vying for the title of an emerging market leader.


But, depending on a company's technical capabilities, what space tourism includes and how much it costs per passenger varies significantly. Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc, a space exploration firm, announced on Thursday that its commercial space travel service will be delayed until the fourth quarter of 2022 and that it will not undertake another planned test flight this year.


While both businesses' passengers would journey to space according to the FAA's definition, a Virgin Galactic passenger spends only 0.04 percent as much time in space as a SpaceX passenger, and a voyage with Elon Musk's company is projected to cost about 200 times as much.


The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibited Virgin Galactic from flying its SpaceShipTwo until a study into the Virgin Galactic rocket aircraft mission that sent British entrepreneur Richard Branson to the edge of space was completed on Sept. 2.


The primary distinction in the destinations of the human spaceflight programs in development is whether a passenger reaches suborbital or orbital space. As a result of this disparity, there are significant differences in the cost, experience, and even risk of becoming a space tourist.


In research released last year, UBS predicted that space tourism, including both suborbital and orbital travel, might be worth $3 billion by 2030. Northern Sky Research, a space industry consultant, has published its forecasts for suborbital vs orbital tourism. Suborbital will be a $2.8 billion industry by 2028, with $10.4 billion in overall income over the following decade, according to NSR, while orbital will be a $610 million market with $3.6 billion in total revenue.

New Commercial Applications

Space enthusiasts have proposed several potential economic uses for space in the future. Many rely on decreasing the cost of space transportation for their economic viability, an aim that has evaded both governments and commercial entrepreneurs to yet. Low-Earth-orbit access has traditionally cost tens of thousands of dollars per kilogram of cargo, posing a substantial barrier to further space research. However, one firm, SpaceX, cut the cost by a factor of ten with its Falcon 9 rocket and plans to cut it much more with its next Falcon Heavy rocket.


The Moon's resources, as well as those on other planets in the solar system, notable asteroids, are prospective targets for economic exploitation. For example, the solar wind has deposited enormous amounts of the isotope helium-3 in the soil of the lunar surface over billions of years. Helium-3 may be collected and brought to Earth, where it is scarce, for use in nuclear fusion reactors, according to scientists and engineers.


Takeaway

A complex combination of reasons has fueled space exploration and development, including scientific curiosity, heated competition between national governments and ideologies, and commercial profit. A concept of human migration away from Earth, eventually leading to permanent colonies in space or on other celestial worlds, has been at the heart of them. In actuality, just 27 people have flown beyond Earth orbit, and they were all Apollo astronauts during the mostly political-motivated race to the Moon. Human exploration and colonization of the solar system will return, but under what conditions is a significant question for the future.


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