Did you know that the first space tourist in history supposedly paid 20 million dollars for his ticket?
In 2001, Dennis Tito, a U.S. multi-millionaire, spent almost eight days with the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth 128 times. He was the first private citizen to personally fund his own trip to space. Prior to his voyage, only trained astronauts and invited personnel were authorized to make the trip. Though he likely didn’t know it at the time, Tito started the world’s craziest dream: that, soon, ordinary people can break off the shackles of gravity and zoom off into outer space like astronauts.
Since then, private entities have paved the way for truly accessible space travel. Private investors have injected billions of dollars in venture capital for spacefaring companies. Private enterprises have built more viable infrastructures to launch rockets into space for considerably reduced costs. Private entrepreneurs, like Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson, have dared to dream for everyone else.
Most recently, SpaceX launched the Falcon 9, its popular reusable rocket, notably costing $62m to launch, according to their website. With every successful launch, humanity is inching further and further into the realm of stars for a more affordable price, opening up the possibility for cheaper space travel. There has never been a more perfect time to invest in space technologies!
Today, the space industry is rife with opportunities. Let’s take a look at the exciting possibilities in this burgeoning market:
Affordable space tourism
Naturally, the first big leap in space travel is to build a flourishing space tourism industry. When Dennis Tito traveled above the stratosphere in 2001, he saw sights that everyone else can only dream of.
According to a 2018 survey from Pew Research Center, 45 percent of prospective space tourists want to “experience something unique.” Meanwhile, 29 percent want to “see the view of Earth from space.” Finally, 20 percent want to “learn more about the world.” (The remaining 5 percent have other reasons.)
Regardless of the specific reason, those who want to become space tourists recognize the beauty that being in space can bring out. Space tourism can allow people to see the Earth from an alien perspective, to marvel at every mountain, every ocean, every city, and every cloud. With costs plummeting, launching to space is turning into a reality.
Of course, seeing the Earth from above is one thing, but where else can we go?
The Moon, then Mars
As NASA prepares its overdue return to the Moon, others are already preparing for the next big journey: Mars. Since the beginning, Elon Musk has dreamed of conquering the Red Planet for Mother Earth, in hopes of establishing a second home for humanity. And it’s not just Musk and the brilliant minds of SpaceX; the U.S., Russian, and Chinese space programs all want a crack at sending a manned mission to the neighboring planet. With everyone pitching their stake, are we ready to send people to Mars?
More than you think.
What was once a realm exclusive to science fiction novelists is now slowly becoming a reality for humankind. In fact, the current Moon missions all figure into the next steps to Mars. Upon returning to the Moon, the hopeful task is to set up a base for outer space operations. This includes an eventual launch pad for farther targets like Mars.
Definitely the more conservative of the bunch, NASA hopes to return to the Moon by 2024. After the preliminary mission, the agency is planning a Mars launch by the late 2030s.
Meanwhile, private enterprises are more optimistic. Mars One, a private Dutch organization, plans to launch its first manned mission to Mars by 2031, preceded by a host of unmanned infrastructural missions throughout this decade.
SpaceX, on the other hand, has the most optimistic timeline. Elon Musk’s brainchild is planning a launch by 2024. As if his plan wasn’t ambitious enough, Musk is also planning a self-sustaining Mars city (that is, one that doesn’t rely on Earth anymore) by 2050.
If 2024 still feels like quite a bit of time away, we are temporally nearer to 2024 today than we are to Dennis Tito’s flight back in 2001. Mars is quickly becoming the hottest destination for the children of tomorrow.
To infinity and beyond
After Mars, what can possibly come next? As it turns out, the space industry is already working on that.
Centuries ago, in the Age of Exploration, our ancestors harnessed the power of wind by using sails on manned ships to cross vast oceans and explore new continents. Today, the space industry wants to follow in their footsteps. But, instead of using wind, they want to use light.
Developed by The Planetary Society, the Light Sail 2 is a kite-like satellite that harnesses the power of photons to propel itself around the Earth’s orbit. Though the technology is still in its infancy, solar sailing might become our next technological development in space travel. Scientists are already proving that the light sail is faster, lighter, and more efficient than fuel propulsion rockets.
If the industry further develops this technology, the possibilities are endless. Currently, light sails are preparing to explore and study nearby asteroids, potentially opening a way to mine the space rocks for precious minerals.
To go even further, light sails can possibly travel to and farther from Mars for a fraction of the usual time. With propulsion rocket systems, a Mars trip can take months. A light sail, travelling at a fraction of the speed of light, can cut this into just three days. Imagine the possibilities: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and even beyond.
Whether on a short or long timeframe, space travel presents a host of opportunities to investment in space technologies. With the right tools, space-related projects can both earn profit for investors on the ground and change the fate of humanity up in the stars.
If you’re interested to learn more about what you can do as an investor in the space industry, email email@example.com.