Will space travel take off?
By Jim Scott
The world is just "weeks" away from its next trip into space as Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic prepares to take to the outer skies with a spacecraft full of people. Branson told the US’s CNBC that his project was almost ready for take-off after an almost four-year break when its SpaceShip Two VSS Enterprise crashed over California’s Mojave Desert in October 2014. But as the space race continues and passengers literally queue for their million-pound ticket, will regular space travel work?
When SpaceShip Two crashed four-years-ago during its test flight at 55,000 feet, questions were raised over the future of space flights for everyday people. Virgin vowed to get back to the skies. Whilst Amazon’s founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos wasn’t put off neither. And confirmed he still wanted to be the first to commercially send ‘humans’ into outer space with his project named, Blue Origin. But Bezos recently said his mission to outer space was "overshadowed" by his even greater mission to take people further.
Fool.com reports NASA are not the "only entity interested in returning to the moon" as the Amazon CEO revealed a "moon race" with Airbus on Monday October 8. The Independent revealed Bezos was "designing a large lunar lander" which could provide reusable access to the moon’s surface.
Meanwhile Elon Musk and his SpaceX project confirmed the next-generation of space race. Bloomberg said Musk had hoped to ‘send two tourists around the moon late this year’ (2018) which despite suffering delays to the project. He announced the identity of SpaceX’s first passenger. Fashionista and billionaire Yusaku Maezawa who is expected to fly around the moon in 2023, if test prove successful.
Despite the progress from each contender being at different stages in the race to even climb higher than 100,000 feet, space travel once launched "commercially" won’t be for everyone. With tickets usually costing over $250,000 each, and often the requirement of a large deposit ($100,000). It isn’t seen as "affordable" for most around the world. Former NASA astronaut, Don Thomas believes affordable space travel could be achievable within the next decade. He explained, that he expected man could be on Mars by 2041, thanks to technological advances in human spacecraft, something NASA stopped investing in, several years ago.
Meanwhile Richard Branson’s optimism that the next commercial flight into space will be Virgin Galactic may be unrealistic. Fast Company reports, Branson had previously claimed he would physically be in space by April 2018, though that is now impossible unless he invents a time machine. Critics also cast doubt over whether he can deliver on his promise to take tourists up in his million-dollar aircraft by the end of next year, in 2019.
Nonetheless, if space travel takes-off on a commercial basis. People will have to get used to the sight and sounds of each spacecraft launch. CNBC reported residents on the coast of California were "freaked out" when they saw the launch of Elon Musk’s Space X on Tuesday. The US Air Force had sent out a warning to several California states, to expect a "sonic boom" ahead of the rocket launch.