The proposed flight presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years.
It was announced earlier this week by the company ‘Space X’ that they will be privately flying two citizens around the moon in 2018, pending their completion of fitness and background testing.
Mr. Musk, Space X’s entrepreneurial CEO, stated during a telephone conference on the announcement that, the trip would be “a long loop around the moon… it would skim the surface of the moon, go quite a bit further out into deep space and then loop back to earth”. It is predicted to take around one week to complete, with the total cost of the mission to both Space X and the space-tourists remaining undisclosed.
As Space X posted on their blog about the announcement, the tourists will “travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal spirit of exploration”. These statements link into a much wider trend within tourism outside of the aerospace sector, which has seen greater number of travellers searching out ‘extreme experiences’.
For the aerospace sector, the hype and popularity of this story raises some interesting questions. This mainly focuses on how the growth of space-tourism could affect the sector?
When looking at this question, it is important to first define what space-tourism is. Space tourism is space travel that:
Space-tourism as a concept is not new. Virgin Galactic along with other smaller companies (i.e. Stratolaunch) having been looking to provide low orbital tourism for a number of years. However, these have been held back by issues relating to cost, risk and technology.
Nevertheless, a recent study conducted by Space Travel Consultants International has interestingly predicted a growth in the space-tourism industry of around 10% between 2018 and 2021. Although these are not astronomical figures, they are a clear indication that the sector is growing and moving forward.
There is a general understanding that the growth of space-tourism is likely to positively impact on the advancement of scientific and technological knowledge. Ian Crawford, a professor at the University of London, confirms that “there is no doubt that science has been the major beneficiary of the space age… [and] it is clear science still has much to gain from continued access to space.
Space Travel Consultants International confirm that for space vehicles, ground operations and aerospace technology more widely, they expect ‘significant learning-curve effects’. As outer-space flight numbers increase in line with tourism demand, so too should knowledge and understanding of key scientific principles and technology underpinning the sector.Discover More