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Richard-Branson-Virgin-Galactic-Space-Tourism-thefutureparty

Space tourism takes off

Richard-Branson-Virgin-Galactic-Space-Tourism-thefutureparty
Space tourism // Illustration by Kate Walker

Space tourism takes off

 

Future. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceflight (which was the first time a private citizen has flown in their own aircraft into orbit) sets the stage for the new industry of space tourism. It still may take decades until the average citizen can afford a ride, but the successful mission shows that, eventually, we may all have the ability to literally shoot for the stars.

Welcome, space Virgins
Virgin Galactic’s CEO happily strapped in to be a spaceflight lab rat.

  • Branson’s mission (which included five other crew members) was meant to highlight the safety of the flights aboard Virgin’s VSS Unity.
  • The crew experienced weightlessness, and were able to unbuckle their seatbelts and float around the cabin while looking out at the expanse of the atmosphere.
  • The company is opening up a commercial spaceflight service next year, and an hour-long trip will cost $250,000.

Private takes flight
Branson’s flight was the ultimate “put your money where your mouth is” stunt, because private spaceships have been tested a tiny fraction of the times that the typical commercial airliner has. Those 600 people who signed up probably wondered: “is this safe?” But Branson showed that space travel is safe enough for him (the billionaire CEO of the company), and so average people may as well come aboard (well, the average that can afford the ticket price).

Space tourism, which is also backed by other blue-chip companies like Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and also intriguing startups like Axiom Space, aspires to shuttle hundreds of people a year into orbit. Financial firm UBS estimates that that industry could generate up to $4 billion in revenue per year by 2030.

Roughly 600 people have already put down the $10K deposit for a trip… including SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.