(Pocket-lint) – There’s an old adage in the UK: you wait all day for a bus and then two come along at once. With Richard Branson making his Virgin Galactic flight on 11 July and Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin on 20 July, a window into space has opened that simply wasn’t there before.
Appropriately, the Amazon founder’s broadcast of the Blue Origin flight concluded with the message: “we are open for ticket sales, send us an email email@example.com, we can’t wait to fly you to space and back.”
You can also register your interest with Virgin Galactic – indeed Elon Musk, the other billionaire with a space rocket programme, is reported to have done just that.
Just think about that: there are now two viable options for going to space, with Elon Musk and Space X soon to follow.
Space, for so many of us, has always been the stuff of fantasy. It’s where our favourite stories play out, it’s the vast unknown, a frontier to be explored, conquered perhaps, with so many gazing to the stars and wondering what’s out there.
Space was, for a long time, somewhere that only the very select would get to go. To get a seat on a NASA flight involved so much: you needed to be able to fulfil a role, you had a purpose on that flight and you probably had a PhD in that purpose, along with 20 years of flight experience and, probably, superhuman fitness and no appendix. Astronauts have been our heroes, for so many reasons, for so many years.
That has now all ended. That barrier to so many people has been removed, as space flight comes not as part of a government-backed programme, but as part of a private commercial venture. Fuelled by Branson, Bezos and Musk, the new barrier is money.
If you’ve got a spare $250,000 you can book yourself a ticket on Virgin Galactic and see what the fuss is all about yourself.
For those who daydreamed about space through their childhood, actually getting to space is a step closer. While the space flights of Branson and Bezos can be dismissed as a billionaires’ space race – the role of astronaut now cast as a villian rather than a hero for some – we’ve been witnessing a small piece of history.
While that might not have the impact of the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon, there is huge significance in what happened in July 2021. A little piece of space opened for business.
While those flights are impossibly expensive to some, there are plenty of people who can afford to get a seat on one of these flights. For the price of a sports car, you can go somewhere that very few people have been before – even if it’s just for a few minutes – for an experiences that, pardon the cliché, is totally out of this world.
Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 20 July 2021.