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SpaceX launched Manned Mission into Orbit

SpaceX Launched Manned Mission Into Orbit

SpaceX is the latest company to have launched a manned mission into orbit. The company executed the successful launch on Thursday, carrying a private crew. This achievement makes them the first company to have sent an entirely nonprofessional crew to become astronauts. However, it makes them the third company in the billionaire space race to have executed a space tourism flight.   

Earlier this year, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin took passengers on few-minute flights into suborbital space before returning to Earth. On the other hand, Elon Musk’s company is taking its crew on a multiday trip in orbit before splashing down off the coast of Florida.  

Reportedly, Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski are expected to spend roughly 72 hours orbiting the Earth before descending in the Crew Dragon Capsule ‘Resillience.’ 

Space History Tends to Repeat Itself, too 

More than sixty years ago, the space race was being waged between two world superpowers, the United States and the USSR. Both nations were desperately vying for spaceflight superiority. Each spacefaring achievement was a matter of national pride, and every technological advancement set the bar ever higher.  

This space race brought pioneering launches of artificial satellites, robotic space probes, human spaceflight in low orbit and culminated with the first manned mission to the Moon in 1969. 

In 2021, the goals of the new space race remain much the same as they were back in the 1960s and 1970s. The main difference is that the domain of the aerospace industry is no longer reserved solely for government agencies. Instead, it has become a new frontier for some of the wealthiest people in the world. 

With a combined net worth of over $400 billion, the three key players in this space race are Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Tesla’s Elon Musk and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. The three entrepreneurs all began their aerospace ventures within four years of one another. Bezos was the pioneer to start the trend in 2000 with Blue Origin. Musk quickly followed him in 2002 with SpaceX, and the two began going head-to-head. Finally, Branson also threw his hat in the ring in 2004 with Virgin Galactic with a dream to pioneer space tourism. 

space tourist

A New Member of the Billionaire Space Race? 

Joining the big three in the already seemingly saturated private aerospace market is Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. However, he is not interested in tourism or colonization. Wozniak is involved with a company called Privateer that appears to be ‘working to keep space safe and accessible to all humankind’. Seemingly, the company aims to dismantle, retrieve, and clear space debris.   

The billionaire space race is moving at a breakneck pace. On 11 July, Branson was the first to fly to the edge of space when he and his crew found themselves 80 km above the Earth’s surface. Reportedly, over 600 affluent customers, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 seat on one of Virgin’s future space trips. 

 Just ten days later, Jeff Bezos made a similar journey when he and another three passengers ventured over 105 km over Earth. Most recently, on 16 September, SpaceX made history by launching an all-civilian crew into orbit aboard the ‘Inspiration4’. 

Despite suing NASA for awarding SpaceX the 2.9 billion contract for a Human Landing System, Bezos was amongst the first to congratulate the company’s achievement.  

Final Thoughts 

NASA and the companies involved are quick to point out the benefits of a privatized aerospace sector. These include overall cost reduction, technological advancement, space exploration and ultimately, colonization. 

“To me, the more people involved in it, whether private or government, the better,” explained the NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough. 

On the other hand, skeptics call the privatization of the aerospace sector as being little more than billionaire bravado. They believe that the billionaires’ capital would be better spent on direct, immediate action back on planet Earth. It could be invested in helping to alleviate poverty, expanding access to clean drinking water, and helping curb the climate crisis. 

The debate over space exploration is nothing new. And while the skeptics undoubtedly make a very good case for spending those resources to fixing our home planet, it is also important to note that competition is known to create transformative technologies and industries.  

Former NASA Chief Historian Steven. J. Dick also made a strong case when he wrote, “Our entry into space has altered the intellectual landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries in ways large and small, broadening our horizons in ways we sometimes fail to recognize.” 

If you are interested in investing in space, Virgin Galactic has recently become a publicly traded company via a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company). We offer the stock here.

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