Private space travel

Nathan Baldwin, Editor

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In recent years, the world has been amazed by the numerous launches of the reusable rockets of private space companies, such as the recent test launch of a Dragon II capsule capable of flying astronauts by SpaceX or the numerous test flights of the new Virgin Galactic Spaceship 2. These companies are lead by private citizens rather than government entities and are the top two private space travel companies fighting for dominance, in this new and evolving era.
Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, however, may eventually fill two starkly different roles, and perhaps it would be better to have them work together; after all, they have many similarities.

For example both companies rely upon major funding from their respective billionaire leaders, Elon Musk for SpaceX and Richard Branson for Virgin Galactic.

Previously, the world relied on government space travel for any form of outer space visitation, yet these agencies, such as NASA, would never let a civilian go to space. These companies, however, seek to change that.

Virgin Galactic operates within the realm of space tourism, hoping to one day soon to allow everyone to experience the adventure of travelling into space, flying out of the atmosphere to temporarily experience the wonders of outer space in the Virgin Galactic Spaceship.

SpaceX hopes to go beyond tourism and into the commercial realm. With dreams of establishing mankind on distant planets such as Mars, SpaceX works on improving reusable rocket technology and engine power to be able to put colonies on the beyond.

Coinciding with this rise of privatized space travel, government agencies have begun to transfer their funds from creating their own rockets into contracting out these private rockets.

For example, SpaceX has a new Dragon 2 capsule that NASA has contracted to use to launch astronauts to the ISS in the future.

Ever since the end of the space shuttle program, and the shift to using Russian Soyuz capsules, many have criticized America for not providing their own space launch capability. A concern now inflated by the awarding of contracts to companies such as SpaceX.

However, I for one embrace this shift from government into private sector. Largely because government budgets are not infinite. A government space program can only ever get so much funding.

If we increasingly rely on private space companies, their funding can be significantly higher as the interest among consumers rises, all while also allowing government funds to be transferred to aid related fields. This is why I can not wait for private space travel to become a common reality.