Commercial space travel: A peek into its near future

When The Dragon, SpaceX's unmanned spacecraft, successfully docked at the International Space Station in May this year with a cargo of supplies for the station, the whole world was impressed. What was particularly impressive about this feat was that for the first time in the history of space exploration a privately-owned vehicle had taken off successfully and delivered a payload to the space station.

Keen observers have applauded this accomplishment because the company, SpaceX, has beaten a path where none existed before; it has ably shown the world that a private enterprise can surmount all the hurdles inherent to space travel and successfully launch space vehicles. Thomas Zurbuchen, professor of space science at University of Michigan, was exuberant in telling TechNewsWorld that the launch was an 'amazingly huge success'. He lauded The Dragon as both a scientific and entrepreneurial success.

Professor Zurbuchen isn't the only person ecstatic at the possibilities of commercial space travel as there are many other players who are hoping to cash in on the new development. One group of such entrepreneurs is assembled in the barren Mojave Desert, California, locked in a race to build viable space vehicles that can carry people and cargo into space. These companies are spurred in part by the impending cutbacks in NASA's budget that will force the space agency to outsource services to independent contractors involved in space travel.

Commercial space travel promises to be a moneymaker considering how much NASA is likely to spend on transporting personnel and supplies to the ISS. The techies camping out in the Mojave together with others across the country are also eyeing the nascent space tourism industry. Some of these companies are dedicating all their efforts to developing vehicles that can carry pleasure-seeking passengers to space and back, and they are projecting that in the next 4-5 years these vehicles should be lifting off.

A different kind of entrepreneur is also waiting to benefit from space travel but with regards to running a space travel agency. We are certainly going to see the opening of many an agency in response to increasing interest in space travel. As soon as companies like XCOR, Virgin Galactic, Space Adventures and Armadillo Aerospace put together viable space vehicles that can carry paying passengers, a space travel agency will become a very important aspect of the space travel business. You are likely going to buy your tickets and make reservations with the help of such an agency. We already have a few agencies that are enabling people interested in future space flights to start reserving seats. This industry will definitely take shape with time and we will see more and more enterprising people coming up with interesting products and services related to space travel including theme parks, memorabilia, computer games, simulated tours, and so on.


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