After a historic launch from Cape Canaveral last month, SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule returned from its’ duties at the International Space Station carrying over 3,800 lbs of materials and scientific data from the international crew of astronauts on board. This successful round trip is yet another major victory for Elon Musk’s space company, as they hope to expand their services from delivering cargo to becoming one of the world’s first space tourism providers.
Footage of SpaceX Dragon Capsule Departure Back to Earth:
SpaceX had already announced earlier this month that they expected to be ready for their first tourism-related launch in 2018, and considering their historical ability to stick to deadlines, we might be able to see the space tourism sector become alive. However, SpaceX isn’t the only space company in town, Blue Origin is set to test out its’ New Glenn rocket in 2019, a potential precursor to their tourism venture, whilst the original space exploration company, Virgin Galactic is beginning to show signs of life after a series of major setbacks and deadly accidents seemingly stopped their progress.
A new space race has emerged, except this time, instead of countries competing against each other, it is privately owned companies. Indeed, international space agencies such as NASA or its European equivalent, ESA, are more focused on manned missions to the moon or Mars, with several expeditions tentatively pencilled in over the next decade. This has given companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic a lot of leeway in their quest to be the first to send paying tourists into space.
So far, only SpaceX and Virgin Galactic seem close to reaching their goal, with Blue Origin seemingly banking their fortune on the future of their next-generation heavy boosters. Whilst Elon Musk has vowed to have an active tourism line by 2018, Virgin Galactic might not be too far behind considering how close they came in 2014 prior to their prototype disintegrating mid-flight. Richard Branson has even gone as far as naming the first guest he will take with him on Virgin Galactic’s maiden voyage: none other than world renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.
However, that is all the information we currently have from both companies’ future plans. Only time will tell if they’re able to produce results and fulfill their goal of making space tourism a viable venture in our near future.