Space exploration…Sci-Fi for Consumers

A new era is unraveling under our eyes. Where what seemed impossible just a few years ago, now is a reality. Seems that humanity is boldly going where no one has gone before. ©Virgin Galactic
11/10/2021
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SpaceX Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is an American aerospace manufacturer, space transportation services and communications corporation headquartered in Hawthorne, California. Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars.

Blue Origin, LLC is an American privately funded aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company headquartered in Kent, Washington.

Virgin Galactic is an American spaceflight company founded by Richard Branson and his British Virgin Group retains an 18% stake through Virgin Investments Limited. It is headquartered in California, USA, and operates from New Mexico.

—Wikipedia

Consumers are ready to spend on whatever product or service according to their tastes and preferences. Recent developments have made space the ultimate destination for the consumers; well, those who can afford it now.

Space travel is one thing; getting there, staying for a few minutes or hours, then coming back is another but camping there on a permanent space station for weeks or even months is entirely something else. Well, that is what Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s billionaire founder, has in store for this decade. Through his Blue Origin space tourism company, he intends to build a space station that rivals the international space station in size, only that it will be dedicated to space tourism by the end of this decade. It might sound like something out of a fantasy movie until it becomes a reality.

The vastness of space has always been fascinating for human beings, with many having different perceptions because of its mysterious nature and conspiracy theories. Curiosity influenced the launch of missions to explore the earth’s outer space, then to the moon. Later on, these missions became manned, forcing the first humans to go to space in the 60s. It marked the beginning of the space race between nations, specifically the U.S.A and Russia. 

All that, however, seems like child play compared to what the 2020s have gifted the world. The new decade has brought new possibilities of space travel, and humankind continues to stretch the limits of possibility. From what seemed like a fantasy, space tourism is becoming a reality. 

Forget about prime real estate in city centers, customized private jets, or even private islands guarded by trained commandos because the world’s wealthiest men have now gone a notch higher; they want to conquer space. Space tourism is the new frontier for the world’s billionaires. “One small step for man, a giant footstep for mankind” were the famous words by astronaut Neil Armstrong after he became the first man to set foot on the moon surface in 1969.

It will now be another giant step for space investment since what seemed like a pipe dream a few years back is now a brainchild for most billionaires worldwide. Space tourism is alive and raring to go making it a new reality for the world right now. Bezos’ company is not going to stop at anything in its pursuit of space tourism.

How much would it cost to come up with a tourist station in space? The U.S.A usually apportions quite a significant chunk of its budget to NASA to continue research and development. These figures typically run into billions of dollars annually, funding from the government to a scientific institution for scientific purposes. When it comes to a tourist space station, it will encompass the scientific aspects, among others, that will ensure tourist safety, comfort, and longevity. Furthermore, creating a self-sustaining environment in space will allow tourists access to food, reducing the costs of carrying food from earth. 

At some point, tourists will insist on enjoying the space environment without putting on those bulky spacesuits. As a result, this necessitates serious research in microgravity, particle and solid-state physics, the biology of human physiology in alien environments, and the brain’s workings under prolonged exposure to such environments. In a nutshell, for such an idea to come to fruition, companies from virtually all corners of the world will have to be assembled to pull it off in a galactic-like alliance. The logistical challenges to be overcome are also quite enormous.

The financial aspects related to it are mind-boggling even to try putting the finger on. The rough estimates might equal the budgets of at least three-quarters of the nations in the world. But that is not a problem; with Bezos being the world’s wealthiest man and his Amazon Company being among the biggest and most profitable on the planet, space for consumers is achievable. One thing for sure is that the funds to be involved in the project are astronomical, but Bezos has already committed $1 billion a year to his space company, Blue Origin. The games billionaires play…

Bezos can back up his idea with enough proof that his company will achieve its mission. The race for space tourism saw other billionaires, such as Richard Branson and Elon Musk, successfully go to space and come back. Elon Musk was the first to launch a private mission to space. Besides, Bezos also took a trip to space earlier in the year, which necessitates him to build upon his initial success as a platform to launch his ambitious Orbital Reef project. 

There is a driving force behind such a realization by these billionaires involved in the space race, and it is not the urge for self-satisfaction but actualization. The driving force is the presence of a ready and thirsty market for the same. Several people globally are prepared to be among the first tourists and pay any amount to experience the space. These are not the typical tourists who visit the tropical savannas worldwide to watch zebras grazing and wildebeests getting massacred; these are also the wealthy upper-middle-class and high-class members of the society.

However, some concerns that the billionaire needs to address in the process exist. For instance, Bezos needs to assess the safety aspects of his project to avoid any unforeseen catastrophe in the actualization of the project.

There is always the temptation to take shortcuts in a competitive environment to beat the competition, which should not be the case in this project. However, this is precisely what Blue Origin is experiencing right now, with stiff competition coming from Space X and Virgin Galactic, owned by fellow billionaires Elon Musk and Richard Branson, respectively.

With each of these billionaires coming up with their respective concepts on conquering space, the space tourism race is just getting started. It is hoped that with increased competition and developments, these flights will gradually drop in costs, low enough for the average citizen to dare dream about visiting space. Well, it might be several decades from now, but it is indeed possible because with every scientific invention, with every blast of the rocket fuel, and with every exclamation from a billionaire, it gets closer to reality. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s welcome the future and all its possibilities.

Virgin Galactic, Space, Space Exploration, Richard Branson

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