Sure, they’re billionaires, but the exploits of Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos have undeniably brought space tourism a step closer. That raises tricky legal, ethical and environmental questions.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson launches Virgin Galactic.
Terry Caws/Alamy Stock Photo
Here’s what a space tourism industry led by Bezos, Branson and Musk might mean for the planet.
Virgin Galactic takes off.
Sir Richard Branson’s successful spaceflight marks the beginning of a new chapter for space tourism.
Virgin Galactic’s Unity VSS spacecraft went on a suborbital test flight in May 2021.
Both Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are sending spacecrafts – and their billionaire founders – into suborbital flight. But what differentiates a suborbital flight from a trip around Earth?
It wasn’t long after Jeff Bezos announced his plans to go to space that Sir Richard Branson joined in, setting a launch date to beat Bezos by nine days.
Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson on the International Space Station with a view many more are likely to see soon.
NASA/Tracy Caldwell Dyson/WIkimediaCommons
The first space tourist left Earth 20 years ago aboard a Russian rocket. Now, private companies like Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are offering trips to the stars for those who can pay.
Space tourism has been slow to get off the ground.
Nadia Bormotova/iStock via Getty Images Plus
The first space tourist left Earth 20 years ago aboard a Russian rocket. Now, private companies are on the cusp of offering trips off Earth for those who can pay.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is raised into a vertical position on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A.
SpaceX’s launch of astronauts to the International Space Station will make it the first private company to launch humans to space. The effort has ramifications for NASA and spaceflight in general.
Although it has yet to fly any paying passengers and is currently loss making, Virgin Galactic aims to be profitable by 2021.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Cape Canaveral, Fla., Nov. 15, 2018.
A brief line in the State of the Union address hints at an exciting year for commercial spaceflight companies in the US. After an eight year lull, US rockets will again carry astronauts into space.
Kids dream about going to space – and some very wealthy adults are booking tickets.
With any type of human exploration, there are risks as we push boundaries, and there are inevitably mishaps and fatalities as a result. Space tourism is no exception.
Private companies are increasingly challenging national space agencies in a new space race, which comes with great opportunities but also huge risks.
White Knight Two carrying the spaceplane SpaceShipTwo.
Spaceports will pave the way for spaceplanes, helping scientists access space for medical research.
The president-elect’s taste for private jets could be just what the aviation industry needs.
The only way to fly the friendly skies – or dark voids of space.
We’re on the cusp of being able to consistently launch and land rockets, greatly reducing the cost of space travel. But how long before there’s a Millennium Falcon in every garage?
View from the hotel balcony?
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
The turbocharged capitalism of private space flight is strangely at odds with the brotherly, generous global consensus that built the legal framework for extra-terrestrial travel.
National Transportation Safety Board inspectors with a tail section of SpaceShipTwo.
National Transportation Safety Board/Wikimedia Commons
Last week was a particularly grim one for private space flights. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed in the Mojave Desert, about 150km north of Los Angeles, killing a pilot, Michael Alsbury, and seriously…
A co-pilot on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (seen here in 2010) died after the spacecraft crashed in the Mojave desert.
EPA/Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic
Tragically, the experimental spaceplane SpaceShipTwo crashed in the Mojave desert during a test flight on Friday, killing one pilot and injuring another. It is not clear what went wrong, and the coming…
Success never comes without sacrifice. And frontiers are never crossed without some type of loss. We are seeing with brutal clarity that the frontier of successful space travel is one which has not yet…