Future of space travel – Part I

Image: Daily Mirror
Image: Daily Mirror

Future of space travel : Major events in upcoming century

It’s been more than fifty years since the first man stepped out from the earth but the development of space exploration technologies are a little too slow while most of the other technologies have developed exponentially. Main reason for this is the return of any investment in the development of space exploration technologies, only comes a long time into the future (after one generation) and the risk of these investments are very high. So when there is no exponential investment, how can a technology be developed exponentially? That’s history! How would be the future of space travel? Would it be same like the last five decades?

Let’s talk a little bit about what’s going to happen in the upcoming century in space exploration field. We’re going to cover sections like space tourism, building a space elevator on Earth, colonizing Mars – multi planet civilization, leaving solar system – interstellar voyaging etc in this article series. Let’s start with the space tourism

Tesla Roadster and Starman in space
Tesla Roadster and Starman in space

Space tourism

In April 28, 2001 an American Engineer and multi-millionaire Dennis Anthony Tito could become the first space tourist travelling to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, paying his own way! This is known as the very first commercial space travel.

Currently there are few different types of space tourism including

  • Orbital space tourism
  • Suborbital space tourism
  • Lunar space tourism

In orbital tours passengers have the chance to get into low-Earth orbit and make a visit to International Space Station. Virginia-based company Space Adventures could send a total of 7 individuals from 2001 to 2009  to ISS and in 2010 Russia halted orbital space tourism due to increased ISS crew size. In these past orbital tours the cost for one tour per person was in the range of US$20–40 million!

In suborbital tours passengers are taken up to an altitude of 100 kilometers. They get the chance to feel the zero gravity for few minutes and see the blackness of the space! Currently there are several popular suborbital tour companies including

Price per passenger at Zero G Corporation is as low as 5000$ and they have flown thousands of people into suborbital space with their G-Force One flight which is a modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft.

Another company named XCOR Aerospace was formed in 1999 targeting suborbital tourism, but unfortunately they closed the company in 2017 and filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Founder of the amazon.com Jeff Bezos also started a company in 2000 named as Blue Origin and they are planning for a human spaceflight before the end of 2018.

In orbital tourism industry there are several companies such as Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX working hard and developing new technologies for the sake of space tourism.

In the commercial space industry most recent and viral news was sending the Tesla Roadster and Starman into space with SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

Image: Falcon Heavy | SpaceX
Image: Falcon Heavy | SpaceX

Falcon Heavy holds the record for the most powerful operational rocket in the world because of its ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons and at one-third the cost, it can lift more than two times of the payload the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy !

In 2017 Elon Musk announced that they will send two tourists around the moon aboard SpaceX‘s Dragon 2 spacecraft in the fourth quarter of 2018. The original  plan was to launch the Dragon 2 with Falcon Heavy rocket,  but recently Musk stated that the Falcon Heavy will not be used for crewed missions and instead they are focusing on the development of BFR – Big Falcon Rocket.

Image: SpaceX
Image: SpaceX

In the history, space-race was between the nations, but now the competition is between private companies which is most probably going to make a golden era for the space tourism! Whoever win the space race we’re pretty sure that in the near future moon is gong to be an awesome place for a vacation!

Image: Moon Base | Daily Mirror
Image: Moon Base | Daily Mirror

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