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What is the future of private space travel?

Date: 2021-08-19

British Virgin Galactic boss Richard Branson and U.S. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos went into space in July this year, sparking a boom in private space travel. They are accompanied by several space enthusiasts: 82-year-old pilot Funk, through space travel to achieve a long-cherished dream of space; Dayman, an 18-year-old high school graduate, bought space tickets by his father. Yusaku Maezawa, a wealthy Japanese businessman, booked nine seats at a time, organized luxury space social groups and even used the opportunity to find a girlfriend.

Although Tito, an American, became the first citizen to fly in Space back in 2001, the commercial competition between Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and Space X is underway this summer. The commercial exploration of these companies has lowered the threshold for space enthusiasts to explore the universe, boosted the popularity of space travel and attracted many stars to jump on the bandwagon. But the $250,000 per person ticket has dissuaded ordinary people with dreams of traveling to space, and rich people have been criticized on social media for spending so much money on space travel. Some argue that the billions of dollars the plutocrats spend on space exploration could be spent on fighting climate change or helping the world recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is private space travel a show of wealth and adventure for the rich to satisfy their curiosity, or is it an exploration and inquiry of human civilization into space? There was a lot of debate, and in the end time was left to answer.

The age of private space travel has begun

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos successfully returned to Earth on July 20 after an 11-minute trip aboard his company's Blue Origin spacecraft.

According to the BBC report, the bezos team's trip is another milestone in human exploration of space. The four tourists became the first civilian group in space to experience weightlessness for four minutes without astronauts, reaching an altitude of 106 kilometers above the earth's surface. Jeff Bezos will be joined on the trip by his brother Mark Bezos, 82-year-old pilot Wally Vonk and 18-year-old High school graduate Oliver Dyman, who will study physics and innovation management at Utrecht University in the Netherlands when classes begin in September.

In tourist photos of the space tour group, the four members look like professional astronauts in blue jumpsuits, black belts and even an American flag sewn into the top of their right arm. They were launched from Texas aboard the New Shepard rocket. After crossing the karman Line, a 100-kilometer high altitude considered the edge of space, the capsule returned to earth by opening parachutes and finally landed safely in the desert.

The rocket carrying the tourists is fully automated. At first, the capsule is attached to the thrusters and takes off vertically. At 76 kilometers above the earth's surface, the capsule separates from the thrusters. The thruster then landed two miles from the launch pad, and the crew capsule briefly reached 106 kilometers above the earth's surface before returning to Earth.

It was the first manned mission for Blue Origin, a company bezos founded -- a day he had waited 21 years for since 2000. He has said space flight has been his lifelong dream.

It was Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, who went into space nine days before Bezos, and has dreamed of flying into space since he was a child. He was aboard virgin Galactic's second spaceship, Unity, which was launched in February 2016 and named by British physicist Stephen Hawking himself. Branson was on board the Unity, which at one point reached an altitude of 85 kilometers. The journey took 40 minutes before the spacecraft returned to the earth's surface. For the past 15 years, Virgin Galactic has been preparing to take passengers to and from the edge of space for a fee, with renowned aerospace engineer Burt Rutan at the heart of the project.

One of Branson and Rutan's biggest competitors in the space travel industry is Jeff Bezos. Just nine days after Branson's return to Earth, Bezos soared higher into the sky as his spaceship finally successfully completed the challenge of breaking the Karman Line at the edge of space. However, the BBC points out that in terms of the customer experience, whether or not the spacecraft passes the Karman line is of little significance, as visitors will be able to experience the breathtaking space view while still experiencing a continuous sense of weightlessness.

Professional female pilot Funk realized her dream in space at the age of 82

At 82, Wally Funk, a gray-haired woman, is the oldest member of the bezos group. She was described by Bezos as an "honorary guest" and by the BBC as a flight buff who "spent her life trying to be an astronaut."

Funk has a long history of flying. She took her first flying lesson at the age of nine and became a professional pilot by the age of 20. She has accumulated 19,600 flying hours during her career and has served as a flying instructor for about 3,000 students. Born in 1939 in New Mexico, she was the first female flight safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board and the first female inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration.

In 1961, with a passion for space, funk, 22, volunteered to join the Mercury 13 female astronaut training program, undergoing rigorous physical training, mental training and testing. At the time, however, the U.S. government, military and NASA had reservations about women in space, and the program was canceled.

For Funk, however, moving from the sky to space was a lifelong ambition. Funk told the BBC in 2019 that she had been fascinated by flying since she was a child and that it had been part of her life and that going into space had been her lifelong ambition. Today, while most of the women who took part in the Mercury 13 program are well into their 80s, Funk is the only one who still holds on to her dream of flying and believes she will achieve it in her lifetime.

In 2010, Funk paid $200,000 for tickets sold by Virgin Galactic, but it has been a decade since virgin Galactic launched a successful mission to space. It wasn't until 2021 that Funk finally got an invitation from Bezos to help her go one step further into space.

Bezos made the invitation public via Instagram, where he acknowledged Funk's space dreams in a post. He said, "No one has waited longer than you. Welcome to the queue! We are thrilled that you will be flying with us on July 20 as a guest of honor."

"I can't tell you how incredible it is to be chosen by Blue Origin to fly into space!" Funk expressed her feelings thus.

Tito, the first space tourist -- "Those eight days were the best experiences of my life"

Despite all the headlines about Bezos and Branson racing into space, the reality is that they weren't the first tourists to go into space. Back in 2001, Billionaire Dennis Tito became the first space tourist by sponsoring a trip to the Russian space station -- Tito's "Deep Tour" lasted eight days and circled the Earth 128 times, compared to Bezos' 11-minute excursion.

Tito graduated from New York University with a degree in aeronautics and astronautics, then earned a master's degree and an honorary doctorate in engineering science, and worked on unmanned space flight and commercial applications. As a result of his studies and work, He called himself an independent researcher during his space travels, but this "independence" required substantial funding -- nearly $20 million of his own money for the unprecedented eight-day trip.

In July, when space travel became an Internet sensation, CNN Travel spoke with Tito and wrote about the saga of the first civilian space traveler. On April 30, 2001, Tito arrived at the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. "Pencils started floating in the air and I could see the darkness of space and the curvature of the Earth," Tito cheerfully described the moment the rocket first reached orbit.

Every plutocrat, it seems, has gone into space to satisfy an early curiosity and dream. "It wasn't just saying, 'Oh! I want to be famous. I want to go into space. 'That's what I set out to do in 1961." Tito said. That year, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. Tito told reporters he had been fascinated by space since he was a young man.

NASA had long opposed the idea of sending civilians into space, and Tito struggled to find a partner agency to make his dream come true. Finally, his turn came when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. "In the late 1990s, the Russians were struggling to raise money for their space program, and I thought maybe we could deal with the Russians." Tito began discussions with Russia about paying to participate in space flight missions.

It took years to do this. On April 28, 2001, Tito finally lifted off with two Russian cosmonauts aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. He spent the next week aboard the International Space Station.

"It was eight days of euphoria."

"I just love looking at the Windows, taking pictures of the earth, portholes. That's great!"

"Whatever I expected, it was 10 times better than I expected. Those eight days were the best experiences of my life." "Tito recalled.

But there are differences between space travel. Mr Tito's eight-day trip was an orbital space trip, while Mr Bezos and Mr Branson, who are working towards crossing the Karman Line, were on suborbital flights, not orbiting.

Tito's space dreams don't end there. He's still keeping an eye on the latest developments in space travel and can't wait to ride in space again. He is now pinning his hopes on Musk's Space X company to become one of the first people to land on Mars by flying on one of its spacecraft.

The commercial competition for private space travel attracts millions of fans

At present, private Space travel all over the world map in the third world states, American entrepreneur elon musk's Space X company, Jeff bezos founded "blue origin" company, and British entrepreneur Richard branson established virgin galactic "company, is conducting preempted market business.

For example, any member of the public can quickly go through the search engine to the Virgin Galactic website and find the "become an astronaut" registration button at the top of the page, in the center. "This year, we are offering a limited number of tickets for future space flights. Take a giant step with us and bring the world one step closer to being filled with astronauts." Before filling out the registration information, Virgin Galactic is straightforward about the company's goals.

As Insider reported in July, more than 600 people have booked future flights on Virgin Galactic, each with a value of $250,000, including actors Tom Hanks and Leonardo dicaprio, and singers Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.

As a result, Virgin Galactic currently generates about $80 million in sales from space travel, and former CEO George Whitesides told Insider that he estimates space travel will eventually generate 文章 billion to $15 billion a year in revenue.

Virgin Galactic also revealed in the interview its ambitions for commercial expansion, with the goal of launching up to 400 flights a year, each carrying up to six passengers and two pilots, taking off and landing from Spaceport USA in New Mexico. Of course, to avoid the criticism of a $250,000 ticket, the spaceport offers more amenities than a normal departure lounge. Also included in the ticket price are professional customized flight suits, badges and flags with names, and a two-day flight training program that includes classroom instruction and centrifuge simulation.

At $250, 000 per person, a plane ticket is beyond the reach of ordinary people, but for the rich, a space capsule is a piece of cake. Yusaku Maezawa, 44, a Fashion entrepreneur and art collector in Japan, made his first fortune in 1998 by selling clothes online. In 2020, Forbes put his net worth at $2 billion.

Maezawa, who has named his Space exploration project "Dear Moon," has booked nine seats on Musk's Space X capsule for a team trip around the moon in 2023. He posted on Twitter that he was recruiting eight fellow travelers, saying that "people of all backgrounds are welcome" and that he had paid for the trip in full, with no additional costs for team members. However, the criteria for the space tour were simple and vague, requiring fellow travelers to "engage in an activity that will help others and society as a whole" and to be "willing to support other team members who share similar aspirations."

It's more like looking for a member of an upscale private space club, and while there's no word on how many people have applied, it's likely to be a tough one to get into the luxury of social space.

Maezawa even wanted to enlist a romantic partner through the trip around the moon. "I want to find a partner for life, and I want to call our love and world peace from outer space with my future partner." Former ze said. The BBC's report revealed maezawa's criteria for seeking a space partner, including that he should apply for three months and be a single woman over the age of 20 with an interest in space.

Flaunting wealth and adventure or exploring space?

Bezos and Branson, who both went into space in the name of fulfilling a childhood dream, have helped promote civilian space travel by lowering the barriers to entry, but their extravagant spending has also drawn criticism on social media.

The BBC summed up the criticism by saying that the money the plutocracies spend on space exploration could be used for more valuable purposes, such as fighting climate change and helping the world recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Branson was the first to respond to the criticism: "I can understand that, but I think they probably don't fully understand what space travel means to the earth." He explained that satellites can monitor all kinds of phenomena caused by climate change. "We need more spacecraft to go into space, not fewer."

While the founders of commercial companies gave many positive implications to private space travel and exploration, the argument persists that space travel is only a privilege for the wealthy and will further widen social inequality. In the case of Oliver Dyman, the youngest Dutch student on Bezos' space travel team, the chance to finally achieve his dream came easily -- Dyman filled in for a mystery guest who had canceled plans due to a scheduling conflict and was only able to secure a ticket at the last minute. However, the cost of the flight was not disclosed, but the mystery guest initially paid $28 million for the seat through an auction, which suggests that the same price was paid for Daman's flight. But how can a high school student who just turned 18 raise a huge amount of money? It turns out that his father, the founder and CEO of a private equity firm, paid for his son to travel to space on Blue Origin. Therefore, not every high school student who is interested in space can get a ticket to realize his dream. The right to choose is currently only in the hands of a few people.

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