Less than sixty years after the moon landing, industry leaders worldwide are now competing in a new space race. Never before has space tourism seemed so close, and business leaders Jeff Bezos and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson are hoping to be the first to offer this exciting new form of transportation. The stakes are high to be the first to enter this market, as experts believe that space tourism or commercial space flight will be a multi-billion dollar industry and potentially reach 23 billion by 2031. For the past decade, advisory firm Clark Street Associates has worked tirelessly to provide clients in AI, advanced manufacturing, and space aeronautics access to federal and state funds. In light of new advances in the commercial space race, Clark Street Associates hopes to discuss what these events may mean for the future of space tourism and the significance of space aeronautics.
In early June, Jeff Bezos made the announcement to the world that he would be flying to space on the first crewed flight aboard New Shepard, the multi-million dollar rocket ship made by his space travel company, Blue Origin. The flight will take place on July 20th, just two weeks after Bezos’s resignation as CEO of Amazon. Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000, selling close to one billion dollars in Amazon shares annually in order to fund Blue Origin and his upcoming trip aboard the New Shepard. Blue Origin has conducted dozens of man-less test flights in rural Texas in preparation for this trip, all successful. Jeff Bezos will be taking the flight with his younger brother Mark Bezos and aviation pioneer Wally Funk.
While Bezos hoped to be the first billionaire space tycoon to experience space flight, Richard Branson may now be taking that title. In a recent announcement, the billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic Richard Branson said that he would soon be taking a trip to space aboard his company’s VSS Unity rocket plane on July 11th for an up-and-down test flight. This trip will beat Jeff Bezo’s flight by just nine days. While Branson’s test flight was originally planned for late 2021, it was moved in light of Bezo’s announcement.
Regardless of which industry leader will be named the first space tycoon to experience commercial space flight, these advancements in space travel indicate that publicly available space tourism may be closer than experts previously believed. Original estimates for space tourism from industry experts put commercial space tourism’s arrival in the late 2020s to early 2030s; however, Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to launch Inspiration4, the first all-commercial mission to orbit later this year and will be planning the first all-commercial astronaut mission to the International Space Station in late 2021.