© 2022 All Rights reserved WUSF
News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

How the space tourism industry has fared since Richard Branson's launch

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Three, two, one. Release, release, release.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Fire, fire.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It has been exactly one year since Richard Branson won the billionaire space race. His Virgin Galactic rocket plane detached from a cargo aircraft and took Branson and his crew on a very cool trip.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RICHARD BRANSON: To all you kids down there, I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars. Now I'm an adult in a spaceship.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

(Laughter).

MARTIN: Branson beat Jeff Bezos by nine days, becoming the first person to ride his own company's vessel into space.

INSKEEP: Or maybe it was near space. Depends on the definition of where space begins.

MICHAEL WALL: I mean, if you get about 50 miles, you're pretty high up. So, like, my own personal opinion is that counts as spaceflight.

INSKEEP: Michael Wall covers the industry for space.com. He says Virgin Galactic has not delivered any civilians to space since then. So Jeff Bezos pulled ahead with his competing operation.

WALL: Blue Origin. They've flown people five times to date, most recently just last month.

MARTIN: And don't forget Elon Musk and SpaceX, not that he would let you.

WALL: But it's a different kind of space tourism. They have actually launched people to Earth orbit, which is a much tougher thing to do. They actually just flew three paying customers to the space station just a couple of months ago.

MARTIN: And they have a contract to do even more of that in the near future.

INSKEEP: Space tourism is in its infancy, and Virgin Galactic says it has at least 800 names on its waiting list.

WALL: We actually know how much they charge. It costs $450,000. We don't know how much Blue Origin charges, and we don't really know how much SpaceX is charging for their orbital trips. They've got a NASA deal to fly NASA astronauts to and from the space station. And that works out to about $55 million per seat.

INSKEEP: Whoa.

MARTIN: Just 55 million. A cheaper option is on the horizon, though. There are companies planning to take people into the high atmosphere underneath a giant balloon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.