It's 2015, and the truth is that space travel might soon become a reality for everyday people. It's important to mention here that the prices for these galactic explorations are still pretty hefty. It's not like buying a JetBlue ticket and hopping on a flight to Vegas. These space trips often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but admittedly, it's an adventure that can change your outlook on life for ever. There are several companies out there dedicated to making space tourism an absolute reality. Some of them are even led by some of the most recognized visionaries and entrepreneurs alive including Richard Branson and Elon Musk. Hey, maybe in the next 5 years, people will be able to spend their summer vacations literally stargazing from space. Check out the piece below featuring ten companies on the cutting-edge of space exploration.
10 Virgin Galactic
British billionaire Richard Branson is many things, an entrepreneur, a visionary, a risk-taker, but above all he is a dreamer. He likes to dream up different ways to push the boundaries and frontiers of humanity and his company Virgin Galactic is a prime example of that. Virgin Galactic was conceived in 2004 and its main aim is to provide suborbital flights into space in the near future. The price tag for these flights, once everything is ready, is set to be about $200,000. Apparently celebs like Ashton Kutcher, Angelina Jolie and Tom Hanks have been rumored to have already reserved seats for these interstellar voyages. Unfortunately, in October of 2014, one of Virgin Galactic’s aircrafts, SpaceShipTwo, suffered a fatal accident in California’s Mojave Air and Space Port. The co-pilot was killed and the pilot was injured. There are obviously some major kinks to work out before these flights to space really start rolling.
9 9. XCOR Aerospace
XCOR Aerospace is an American rocket company founded in 1999 by a rocket scientist named Jeff Greason. Its main aim is to make space tourism available for people who can pay for it in the next few years. To date, the crowning achievement of XCOR Aerospace has been its Lynx aircraft. The Lynx is able to take a pilot and passenger on spaceflights for distances of over 100 kilometers. Initial flights were originally announced to star in 2008, but then that date was pushed to 2012 and then further delayed to 2015. So this might be the year when it actually happens. The hefty air ticket for one of those fantasy voyages was reported to be $95,000 as of 2012.
8 8. Exos Aerospace
Exos Aerospace is one of the newer kids on the block in the realm of space travel. The company was formed in 2014 and its main mission is to develop state of the art reusable vehicles for repeatable and reliable commercial space flight. Even though the company is so young, most of its employees came from another major name in space travel, Armadillo Aerospace. Armadillo had been developing reusable sub orbital vehicles and one of its space crafts, the STIG-B rocket had a test flight in 2013. But due to funding issues, the company was put in hibernation mode. Luckily Exos has emerged to keep on pushing these inventions and breakthroughs forward.
Of all the major names in space exploration, the one the smartest people are putting their money on is SpaceX. The reason is that this is the company founded by the brilliant genius Elon Musk. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, here’s a quick tutorial. Musk is the visionary mind behind Paypal and he is also the founder of Tesla motors. This man doesn’t understand the meaning of limits and once he sees something he wants, he goes for it. His plan with SpaceX is to drastically reduce the cost of space transportation and enable the colonization of Mars! It was just reported this new year that SpaceX raised $1 billion from Google. If the genius minds of Google and SpaceX are working together, you know that something amazing is about to happen.
6 Excalibur Almaz
Excalibur Almaz is a space company that was founded in 2006. It is based in the Isle of Man, and its US Headquarters is based in Houston, Texas. The main goal of the company is to provide commercial space transportation using preexisting and already proven hardware. One thing that really differentiates this company from the others mentioned is that it makes it a point to integrate the technology of past American, Russian/European space travels to achieve its goal of repeatable galactic exploration. The main Excalibur Almaz space capsule is apparently very close to making its maiden exploration flight, and this could possibly happen within the next 2 to 3 years.
5 5. Space Adventures
Do you ever think there will be a time when human beings will inhabit other celestial planets as we’ve seen in movies like Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy? Well with companies like Space Adventures, this reality could be nearer than we think. Space Adventures was founded in 1998, and it has already established itself as the premier name in space tourism. For years, it has been using proven equipment and working in tandem with professional astronauts to send self-funded individuals into space. The company proudly boasts on their site that its clients “have spent close to three months in space and traveled over 36 million miles.”
4 4. Orbital Technologies
Usually when people think about space travel, the name that comes to mind is NASA. However the truth is NASA often relies on several different companies and institutions to keep itself at the cutting edge of science and technology. One of those companies is Orbital Technologies based in Sierra, Nevada. The company has been around since 1988, and it’s a national leader in pushing forward aerospace research and development. To date Orbitec has received an impressive amount of over $150 million in contracts from the government and other facets of the aerospace industry for its state-of-the-art technologies.
3 3. World View Enterprises
Sometimes all you need to change your life and completely recalibrate how you look at the world is changing your perspective. That’s exactly the change in perspective that the company World View Enterprises gives its clientele. This company produces amazing high altitude balloons that take explorers to the edge of space itself. From this amazing altitude, people are able to see the earth in a whole new way: no state lines, no country borders, no physical divisions and just one beautiful breathtaking sight of the earth in all its natural glory. With World View Enterprises, the exploration of “nearspace” is available right here and right now.
2 Orbital Sciences
Orbital Sciences is yet another company that’s making waves in the realm of space exploration. It specializes in the design and manufacture of small and medium class rocket systems for commercial, civil and military use. That “military” word is an important one, because as humanity continues to advance, some rogue nations might try to wage war for space. So it’s important for companies and governments to create technologies that can protect us from any such threats. The company is based in Dulles, VA and it recently merged last year with a company called Alliant Techsystems to form a new company called Orbital ATK Inc.
1 Blue Origin LLC
If you’ve noticed, one of the interesting things about the major companies in space travel is that they are often led by some of the most fearless visionaries alive. We’ve already mentioned Richard Branson and Elon Musk, and now it’s time to talk about Jeff Bezos. Bezos is of course the founder of Amazon and the man who intends to one day use drones to deliver packages to his customers. He also has a space exploration venture called Blue Origin LLC which is developing technologies to enable private human access to space at dramatically lower costs and increased reliability. This is one company that’s likely to make a huge impact in this industry in the coming years.