The Tourism Space Race

by Michael Szul on 2008-05-12 08:30:16 tags: space, space flight, virgin galactic, xcor

Yee-haw! Let the tourism space race begin, my friends. I actually appreciate how independent companies and venture capitalists are stepping up in the great space race, rather than being spectators of the slow movement of NASA. There is a certain amount of red tape that an organization like NASA is tied up with that disallows a lot of experimental thought exercises; but with all these independent firms vying for tourists money in space, this should catapult technological advancement in the exploration of the final frontier - something that hasn't been a priority for world governments since the end of the Cold War.

According to the Denver Post, yet another company has jumped on the spacewagon to try to get this party started:

The mini-ship, built by Mojave-based Xcor Aerospace and designed to fly to the edge of space, is expected to be ready for test flights by 2010, around the time Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic hopes to send its much larger spaceship on its maiden voyage.

More than half a dozen other companies — most, unlike Xcor, bankrolled by wealthy businessmen, including Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com and Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal — are building rockets and spacecraft that they hope will capture the imagination of space travelers. Most plan to finish testing their rockets and rocket planes in the next few years, and the Federal Aviation Administration has estimated the market for space tourism to be more than $1 billion a year by 2021.

Surprisingly, I've heard from several travel industry insiders, that this speculative market is fast becoming a crowded space. There is a lot of money being shoved into the hands of space entrepreneurs; but at the same time, there are flocks of travel agents, tourism suppliers and other top-notch travel industry suit-types that are scrapping together a plan to hitch a ride on a market that is still just breaking through the “idea” phase.

This might eventually lead to a bubble bursting on a similar level of the dot-com level-off, but such an influx of competition can be nothing but good news for a fresh industry that needs cutting-edge technology and thinkers.

We're long overdue… After all, they promised us the Jetsons life-style years ago.