Vacationing in space may be available sooner than expected.
Space travel is a concept that has captivated the imaginations of people around the world for centuries, if not millennia. It represents the ability to discover an ancient landscape virtually untouched by humans and filled with countless new worlds and seemingly infinite possibilities. Sadly as people grow older, many are forced to come to the rather grim realisation that while it is possible to gaze out at the planets and stars, it may not be feasible to reach them within our lifetime. A recent announcement made by Jeff Bezos on behalf of his commercial space venture Blue Origin may be changing this however, as it suggests an important milestone in space travel may be much closer than we previously expected. This development may be a harbinger of change for the possibility of space travel.
According to the statement made by Bezos, Blue Origin will conduct a suborbital test flight with human passengers next year. Experts suggest that if the test goes according to plan, tickets to enter the lower realms of space could be made available to the public as early as 2018. The ramifications of such success would be immense as it would afford many an opportunity that they had previously only ever been able to dream about and revolutionise the tourism industry.
Blue Origin is not alone in its attempt to launch commercial flights into space. It faces competition from the respective companies of billionaires Elon Musk and Richard Branson SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. Both of these enterprises also expect to be launching “regular people” into space in the near future, however both have faced significant setbacks. In the last year SpaceX has repeatedly failed in its attempts to land rockets on a floating barge while Virgin Galactic is trying to recover from their ill-fated first ship which crashed and killed a pilot in 2014.
Although there is obviously significant risk involved in this undertaking, the rewards will be far from insignificant as it is assumed that the first company to offer public voyages into low Earth orbit and ideally the International Space Station will be able to name their price to ticket buyers. These tickets will almost certainly be out of reach for all but society’s most elite initially, but in time they are expected to become more affordable. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has even speculated that a short visit to space could be an affordable trip for most people within the next twenty years according to a quote in the Huffington Post.
While all of this is still a far cry from the type of space exploration dreamed up in the heads of science fiction fans and astronomers alike, if Blue Origin’s work is successful, it would be just the beginning of commercial space travel. With continued research, development and a bit of luck there is certainly the possibility that public flights to other planets will also be achievable sooner than many previously thought.
Original image courtesy of Chris Roditus