Virgin Galactic Logo
With the advent of technology, we have new concepts springing up everyday. One of such things is Space Tourism. Who could have imagined the possibility of the idea of Space Tourism? However, what is Space Tourism? Space tourism is space travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. A number of companies, across the globe, have sprung up in recent years, such as Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace, hoping to create a space tourism industry. Orbital space tourism opportunities have been always been limited and expensive, with only the Russian Space Agency providing transport to date.
The publicised price for flights booked by Space Adventures to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft have been US $20–40 million, during the period 2001–2009 when 7 space tourists made 8 space flights. Some space tourists have signed contracts with third parties to conduct certain research activities while in orbit. Russia has however halted space tourism in 2010, citing the increase in International Space Station crew size. They plan to resume in 2015. As of September 2012, multiple companies are offering sales of orbital and suborbital flights, with varying durations and creature comforts.
But how much does going and taking your family along with space mean to you? Sir Richard Branson, the head of the major Airline, Virgin Atlantic, has resiliently and repeatedly answered this question. He has been behind the idea of “Virgin Galatic”, which means sending the mass public across to space.
Sir Richard Branson
Virgin Galactic is a British commercial spaceflight company within the Virgin Group which hopes to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists, suborbital launches for space science missions, and orbital launches of small satellites. Further in the future, Virgin Galactic also plans to provide orbital human spaceflights as well. Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft is air launched from beneath a carrier airplane.
Sir Richard’s Virgin Group owns Virgin Galactic along with Aabar Investments PJS of Abu Dhabi and they plan to fly passengers to altitudes more than 62 miles (100km) above Earth. The company sells seats on each prospective journey for 250,000 US dollars (£156,000).
The Man Behind it All
Though rival companies also are pushing ahead, the dawn of space tourism seems to have been pushed beyond the horizon yet again. “SpaceShipTwo”, the maiden aircraft, has been under development for years, and Branson originally predicted passengers would be enjoying the wonders of flight by now. Branson still plans to be on the maiden voyage, with his family. He said that day would not come before a new round of crew-only flights.
Some critics have suggested that the space project has seen Sir Richard confusing his two public endeavors, one as an adventurer who relishes personal risk and the other as a weird business entrepreneur who makes millions by undercutting rivals in fields such as mobile phones and air travel.
When the idea of Space Travel being accessible to the common man came into being, it seemed very naïve and undoable. However, Branson has till date not given up hope and continues to vehemently say that he would first go into space with his family and only then would it be open for public.
This is when bad new struck. At 10.51 A.M. 31 October 2014, “SpaceShipTwo” crashed to Earth after experiencing an in-flight anomaly. The flight was the first test of “SpaceShipTwo” with new plastic-based fuel, replacing the original—a rubber-based solid fuel that had not met expectations. Hence, bringing a tragic end to what could have been one of the most revolutionary breakthroughs of the 21st Centaury. It could have given the people a new aspect to be explored of this majestic universe. It could have given so many people new selfies for their Facebook profile picture. Not only this, but people would learn to love and appreciate technology and maybe in some years even the world that we live in.
Even though, after the crash there have been reports of many of the registered ticket holders asking for a refund, Branson is convinced of the fact that even though it indeed is a major setback, there is no way, that the flights would carry any of members of the public before Branson and his family would take he flight themselves.
Proving to be a costly as well as a time consuming exploration, we would love to see the likes of all the famous Hollywood Stars who have purchased their tickets, make their mark on space as well.