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VIDEOS: Space tourism – the future of travel

Which companies are leading the ‘space race’ as a commercial venture?

Since the beginning of mankind, evolution has dictated that we create new tools, learn new languages and reach the farthest corners of the planet – and eventually, beyond.

In July 1969, Buzz Aldrin became the first man to stand on the moon through NASA’s famous Apollo 11 mission. It was a milestone; the beginning of our unstoppable drive to reach far beyond our world.

Nowadays, the race for space has been evolving too. Governments used to be the only ones who could send earthlings into orbit, but now, more and more companies have been pushing to make our space dreams into reality.

Bigelow Aerospace

In February, I wrote about a company developing inflatable commercial habitats which could potentially be the final frontier of hotel rooms. That company is Bigelow Aerospace, a group dedicated to creating ‘space pods’ to be used for scientific, military and, in the future, tourism applications.

Today, it conducts diverse space ops for multiple stations and provides a centralised service at the lowest cost possible for all space operations needs. The company’s clients include NASA and government institutions, as well as private companies.

Bigelow Aerospace’s space modules are launched via a rocket, which then expands once in space. One of its prototypes is in orbit right now and has been attached to the International Space Station (ISS) since 2016.

Virgin Galactic

Promising to democratise space travel, Virgin Galactic is one of the most popular companies working on space travel. The company is part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and its goal is to provide more convenient access to space – a simple description for a challenging mission.

The company’s first spaceship to enter service was the VSS Unity. For the first time, it will offer everyone the opportunity to become private astronauts – at an estimated price of USD 250,000 per ticket. In addition, the spaceship will offer the research community a unique platform for space-based science.

“Transform our relationship… with the cosmos”

Richard Branson, the founder at Virgin Galactic, said: “We are at the dawn of a golden age of space exploration which will transform our relationship with the Earth and with the cosmos”.

Airbus Defence and Space

Formed in January 2014, Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus which is responsible for defence and aerospace products. It’s headquartered in Ottobrunn, Germany, and is focused on improving life on earth through cutting-edge space technologies.

Its first commercial platform, Bartolomeo, enables the hosting of external payloads in low-Earth orbit onboard the ISS. According to its makers, passengers of the Bartolomeo can fully concentrate on their individual space mission, without needing to develop a complex space system or a deep understanding of the ISS.

Orion Span

As Orion Span’s CEO Frank Bunger put it,  this company is launching the “first ever affordable luxury space hotel”. True to his word, the company prides itself on developing the world’s first luxury space hotel in orbit, 200 miles above the Earth’s surface.

Back in April, news broke out about this ‘luxury hotel in space’ and it was actually the Aurora Station of Orion Span which is scheduled to come into full service by 2021. In time, the space station will offer a 12-day journey through space. For USD 80,000 you can actually make a booking right now by visiting the company’s official website.

SpaceX

Founded in 2002 by a man dubbed as ‘the real-life Tony Stark’, SpaceX is a company created by Elon Musk to design and manufacture advanced rockets and spacecraft. With the ultimate goal of revolutionising space technology, it will soon enable humans to live on other planets. Life on Mars, anyone?

In 2012, SpaceX made history as its Dragon spacecraft became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to the ISS and safely return to Earth. Currently, it only carries cargo to space, but under an agreement with NASA, SpaceX is developing refinements that will enable it to fly a crew.

Boeing

Popular for its commercial aircraft, Boeing has been in the aviation industry for the last 50 years. But, little do most people know, the company has a lot more in store when it comes to endeavours of escaping the Earth’s gravity.

Today, Boeing, in collaboration with NASA, is developing the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft (Crew Space Transportation). It’s designed to accommodate passengers or cargo for missions to low-Earth orbit. The spacecraft features an innovative weldless structure and can be used up to 10 times with a six-month turnaround time.

To infinity…

With all these companies breaking ground, it makes me think that the future of space travel is in good hands. It may not come sooner, or more affordable than we’d like it to be, but it gives us a reason to look deeper into the stars and think – the future of mankind is somewhere out there.

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