Reaching the stars, being an astronaut is something that fascinates all of us. Very few people ever realise that childhood dream though.
Despite this, the idea of travelling in space never loses its lustre. Ask almost anyone if they wouldn’t like to visit an Ian M Banks kind of utopian system in the stars and they will say yes. We are fascinated by the infinite void of space and the infinite possibilities that it seems to offer.
So, the question we have to ask is, when is space travel going to become commercially viable? When are we going to be sending civilians out into the great unknown?
The answer is it’s happening now. Whilst it is unlikely that the average Joe Bloggs will be jetting off to the stars in the next couple of years, there are a growing number of companies, and their investors, who believe that the time for consumer-grade space flight is upon us.
For example, Elon Musk’s interstellar-focused business, SpaceX, has put all of its weight behind its newest and biggest rockets for planned off-world launches. And these journeys are beginning to attract paying customers.
With so much happening in the space industry, we’re proud to be part of it. So with that in mind, here’s a quick run-down of the biggest developments in commercial space travel as we speak.
It was over a decade ago that they became the first privately owned company to build and send into space a liquid-fuelled rocket. This was a huge moment for the beginnings of commercialising space travel.
With SpaceX proving that it was possible to privately develop a rocket, the realms of space were suddenly no longer the sole domain of powerful Governments.
From that point on SpaceX has captured people’s attention and added to the industry an exciting element of competition.
There is a huge amount of commercial potential to space exploration, not just passenger flights, but for the likes mining for rare resources.
In a recent paper, Christopher Tang and Joel Wootan investigated the questions that corporations need to answer in order to create a sustainable space industry and make it possible for humans to establish extraterrestrial bases, mine asteroids and extend space travel – all whilst decreasing the Government’s role in funding space enterprises.
So, where do SpaceX stand on this?
Well, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently announced that the Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, and a selection of top artists are to fly around the moon, potentially as soon as 2023, becoming the first private citizens ever to fly beyond low Earth orbit.
Virgin Galactic is a private spaceflight company within the Virgin Group. It is currently pioneering some very exciting tech to provide commercially viable suborbital space flights for space tourists. As well as aiming to provide suborbital launches for scientific research.
The aim, much like, SpaceX is to transform the current cost, safety and environmental impact of space-launches making it affordable and economical, and in doing so helping create, for the first time, a basic space access infrastructure that will act as an enabler for scientists and entrepreneurs.
Excitingly, Virgin are planning to start test flights for their new rocket very soon indeed, by the end of 2018 even. They will be boosting their astronauts to over 50 miles above land!
Blue Origin is an American privately funded aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company headquartered in Kent, Washington.
They prove that there is a growing commercial desire to make space travel affordable and accessible. They have big dreams, and their ability to secure funding shows that it truly is possible to create a competitive forward thinking marketplace. They have recently being playing a key role in assisting NASA in the development of commercial spacecrafts.
Boeing, the aircraft giants have developed the Boeing CST-100 Starliner as part of the NASA Commercial Crew Program and it will be used by NASA to send astronauts into space from American soil, along with the SpaceX Crew Dragon, for the first time since 2011.
It’s an incredibly exciting time for humanity as some of the biggest names in Aerospace are flexing their metaphorical muscles ready to propel us to the stars. The industry is beginning to develop into a competitive commercial marketplace which will hopefully drive investment, innovation and make what was once simply childish dreams into reality.
We supply a wide range of industrial and aerospace fasteners for the space industry. Whether standard, metric or custom design we are leading UK experts.
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