Space tourism takes off and opens colossal market
On September 15, the Falcon 9 rocket took its first four space tourists into orbit. Faced with the projects of its competitors Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, SpaceX stands out for its track record in sending astronauts to the international space station over the past years.
Happy. Healthy. Home.
Welcome back to Earth, @ArceneauxHayley, @rookisaacman, @DrSianProctor, and @ChrisSembroski!#Inspiration4’s mission doesn’t end here — help us reach our $200 million fundraising goal for @StJude! https://t.co/NBUL2e3f4x pic.twitter.com/hhNQydWVJJ
— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) September 19, 2021
It is the first mission to send into orbit around the Earth only complete novices, without a professional astronaut on board.
Called Inspiration4, it was chartered and financed by billionaire and American pilot Jared Isaacman.
Privatising space exploration
SpaceX’s latest feat shows how companies, more than governments, are doing the heavy lifting of space exploration. They are now more able to innovate, manufacture and lower costs.
The growing demand in suborbital and orbital flights will provide a springboard for developers of reusable rockets and allow them to continue to improve their products, and therefore reduce the costs.
Many other companies have projects like SpaceX:
- Virgin Galactic
The experience offers a few minutes in space. A huge carrier plane takes off from a conventional runway, then drops a spacecraft driven by two pilots. It climbs to 80 km in altitude then descends
Passengers can detach themselves and float for a few moments in zero gravity.
On July 11, Virgin Galactic founder and billionaire Richard Branson himself took part in a test flight from New Mexico. The start of regular commercial operations is scheduled for 2022.
- Blue Origin
Jeff Bezos’ company offers a few minutes in zero gravity above 100 km. An unmanned rocket takes off vertically and the capsule detaches in flight, before falling back to Earth.
The Amazon founder was among the first four passengers to make the trip in July this year.
- Russian projects
Russia will send two celebrities to the ISS in October aboard a Soyuz rocket. The goal: to shoot the first fiction film in orbit and in zero gravity.
- AXIOM SPACE
In January 2022, three businessmen will visit the ISS for 10 days.
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is expected to travel around the moon in 2023 aboard the Starship rocket (under development by SpaceX).
Capital gravitating towards the industry
With a flourish of trips and projects in the pipeline, some players in the financial industry are eager to take a head start in space tourism.
La Financière de l’Echiquier has just launched in Switzerland the first European investment fund in space stocks.
Four themes will be addressed by the fund. First, the activities in space, satellites and constellations of satellites and other space assets. Then, the sending to space and the return to Earth, as well as the communication solutions between these two borders.
Within the same days of the fund launch, the London Stock Exchange welcomed YODA, the first ETF in Europe based on the space economy.
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