Interest in what is known as the “NewSpace” – creating create cheap, commercialised space travel, has caught the interest of an increasing number of entrepreneurs.
Three of the top such entrepreneurs that have made a huge splash in the market include billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson. All of them have been very successful in other industries and are now in he race for commercializing space travel.
They are in the race to become the leaders in this new space and pose strong challenge to the existing giants in the space industry.
Among the aims of the space companies set up by these entrepreneurs are creating an ecosystem for space tourism and developing technologies for making possible permanent human settlements on the Moon and even on Mars.
However, the entrepreneurs in this industry are also helping to fill a huge gap left in the space industry by national governments – most of who have drastically cut down on government spending for space projects,.
This has increased the popularity of firms such as SpaceX and Blue Origin among countries like the US especially in the field of military space, to counter the activities of China and Russia in the same race. There have been rough estimates which have pegged the industry at about $1 trillion by 2040.
But how are these new companies planning to earn money through radical transformation of the future of space travel and who are the major entrepreneurs behind this?
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is one such name.
Bezos started his space company Blue Origin in 2000 – the first of the billionaires to do so.
In contrast to some of the other companies in the industry, this company is not as hoarded about its ambitions and plans.
The company however has been facing a number of problems with a number of unsuccessful launches and issues with its BE-4 engine. Additionally, Bezos has been forced top sell $1bn of his Amazon stock every year since 2016 to keep the space company up and running,
Blue Origin was the first company to successfully land a used rocket on earth about three years ago. In recent years, the company has been able to bag a host of lucrative government contracts and obtained national security certifications from the US government recently. .
Bezos aims to send “space tourists” into sub-orbital flight and tickets, which could be sold starting next year, could be values up to $300,000.
Another name is South African-born entrepreneur Elon Musk.
He started his space exploration company SpaceX in 2002 with an initial investment of $100m.
Till date, it has been able to launch almost 70 rockets and has already secured contracts from Nasa, the US Air Force and Argentine’s space agency for delivering their satellites into orbit and in resupplying resources to the International Space Station.
However his company has also faced a number of setbacks with some of the launches exploding in mid air and payloads being lost.
The copany however constructed the strongest rocket till date – Falcon Heavy rocket, and had launched a Tesla car into space.
Musk also aims to make space tourism and travelling cheaper and send commercial missions to outer space. The company has recently announced that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa would be its first customer to the Moon.
A third name is Sir Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Galactic, which he had founded in 2004.
Unlike the rivals companies, the focus of Sir Richard was on eh development of space planes that could be used multiple times which can ferry both space tourists as well as payloads for smaller sub-orbital trips.
Space travel tickets worth $250,000 each is already being sold by Virgin Galactic and have bookings from the like of pop star Justin Bieber. The company has laos been able to secure funding from funds including a significant one from UAE’s sovereign wealth fund.
The company also faced failures. One of its pilots was killed in a mid air explosion of a spaceship in 2014 in a test flight in California. However a number of successful test flights have been conducted by the company since then and the latest being done earlier this month. And in a recent announcement, Sir Richard has said that space travel on the company’s craft will be possible “in weeks, not months”.
(Adapted from BBC.com)