Space travel has been a dream for ages. Luckily, in this era, space-traveling has become a reality. Not the type of intergalactic space travel we see in science fiction films and blue origin launch. But the type of space-traveling that gives you an out-of-the-Earth experience, literally.
Commercial space missions have successfully taken people outside the Earth. Where there are still a lot of people who haven’t been to any place where Spectrum cell phone service doesn’t work. But with the developments being made in this sector, many estimate that space tourism is going to be a flourishing industry in the upcoming years.
When you talk about space traveling, most people can think about Interstellar, Space Race, Appollo Mission, Neil Armstrong, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and the news that Jeff Bezos went out in space. And that’s usually because you read it in your textbooks, watched a movie, or you have been following tweets on the matter. But there’s a rich history of space exploration and space traveling.
It must have started thousands of years ago when people looked at the sky with curiosity. If you consider the beginning of space exploration starting from the time when Galileo Galilee came up with a functional telescope and used it to look at the sky. But if we go further in history, more than 1000 years ago, Islamic scientists like Ibn Al Haythem were working on the optics that would work with Galileo’s telescope.
Also, the first person to enter space was Yuri Gagarin, a Russian cosmonaut. He went out into space Vostok 1 spacecraft. After this development, there were many notable attempts to explore space. A major benchmark was achieved when Neil Armstrong along with Buzz Aldrin and other members of Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Today, in 2022, five nations have their flags on the moon. Those nations are the US, Russia, Japan, China, and India. But the US is the only one to have a manned crew put the flag on the moon’s surface.
There have been many recent successful attempts to send people outside the earth. But these visits were not missions that lasted a few days. Instead, the commercial passengers have experienced zero gravity for just a few minutes. Yes, commercial and not official government-funded missions.
Three private American companies Blue Origin Launch, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic have sent their first space tourists in space. These companies are owned by Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson. All three of these are private companies with different objectives of space traveling. Blue Origin Launch is the oldest of the three followed by SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic coming in the last. All three of these companies have sent people outside of Earth. So far SpaceX has been successful in taking people farthest from the Earth with Blue Origin Launch and Virgin Galactic not crossing the Kármán line.
If you are curious about how much it costs to go into space commercially, SpaceX charged $55 million and Blue Origin auctioned a seat for $28 million. What’s more surprising is that Virgin Galactic has only charged $450k per seat. Such massive differences in the prices are because of the business models of these companies. Where SpaceX and Blue Origin Launch are more focused on space exploration with government backing, SpaceX simply just wants to make it easy for civilians to experience space.
What to Expect in 2040?
After these successful manned attempts to send millionaires and billionaires into space, now private companies have joined the efforts in making space travel more accessible. SpaceX has plans of sending unmanned missions to the Moon and Mars. Elon wants to create remote refueling stations there to further send missions to other planets. Jeff Bezos has similar space exploring ambitions as well with Blue Origins. So, their trajectory is not going to be much different.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has ambitions of focusing on the commercial aspect. The company plans to send people out of the Earth for tourism mostly. The company has sold over 600 tickets for its space visit flights.
Blue Origins was founded in 2000 and SpaceX in 2002. And if these young companies are already successfully sending manned and unmanned missions, the future is very bright for space travel. You may actually live to see human settlements on the Moon and even Mars. But things from science fiction-like space hyperdrive and exploration of planets lightyears would be an overstatement.
Space traveling has become a thing in 2022 thanks to commercial companies joining in. From the current progress, the future of space-traveling looks bright and it is difficult to even assess the possibilities.