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Space Tourism: Recent Developments

A brief look at the most recent private space launches

By Chris Wilkinson Sat 31 Jul, 2021 5:54 PM - Last Updated: Sat 31 Jul, 2021 6:34 PM
When we’re looking at the future of space travel, SpaceX, with their Dragon and Starship, seems to grab the most headlines, introducing us the tools designed for the betterment of the species and towards that end goal of reaching Mars.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen a different set of space launches, designed instead to test the technology for future space tourism.Bezos

The first of these was Virgin Galactic whose ship was strapped to the belly of its “mothership”. Once it reached a high enough altitude it then deployed so to use less fuel overall as it rises out of the atmosphere, allowing the passengers on board to experience weightlessness before the ship comes back to Earth.

For this first flight Richard Branson along with a number of employees rode with the ship to test how it functions for the passengers. On a normal flight it can hold 8 people but on this first there was just the pilots and 4 passengers.

At the end of the flight, the crew of the ship were presented with their astronaut wings.

Even more recently was the first flight of the New Shepard courtesy of Blue Origins. This company was founded by Jeff Bezos and also completed a suborbital flight online.Virgin

Compared to the Virgin Galactic ship, this launched on top of a rocket and the flight from start to finish lasted just over 10 minutes. There were 4 passengers including Bezos and the oldest and youngest people in space.

Despite going above the Karman line, none of the crew on this flight have been awarded their wings as the FAA had changed the conditions for receiving them recognizing pilots and engineers over passengers and mission specialists.

These two flights are the start of a process where the wealthy will be able to fly to the edge of space, but the question becomes, will this stimulate a wider growth of tourism for the common person, or just another perk of being a billionaire.

What do you think of these flights? Were they a waste of money or worthwhile? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

WRITTEN BY Chris Wilkinson

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