Written by Riyaan Kaul, a grade 5 student.
Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Galactica, flew into space on the 11th of July. A new age of space travel began. Branson said, “To all you kids out there….I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars. Now I’m an adult in a spaceship… if we can do this, just imagine what you can do.”
For thousands of years, humanity dreamt of breaking free of Earth’s gravity and exploring space.
But, It seemed impossible!
How it all began…
On the 12th of April, 1961, humanity’s dream turned into reality. Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, became the first human to journey to space and orbit the earth. Later, NASA’s Apollo 11 took Neil Armstrong and fellow astronauts to the Moon in 1969. Since then, more than 550 super fit, super trained individuals from different countries have flown to space. For ordinary individuals, a trip to space seemed impossible. Space trips are super expensive and demand a very high level of fitness. And the space programmes run by government agencies are entirely for research. But, in the last few years, private industry has started getting interested in space tourism.
Billionaires’ Rrace to space
The three maverick billionaires, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos have been working hard to kickstart space tourism. Of these, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic beat all other rivals by becoming the first commercial flight into space on the 11th of July.
71-year-old Branson was not supposed to fly but when Bezos announced his trip, well, Branson decided he would go too. He and 5 crew members flew aboard the sleek plane Unity, 88 kilometres upwards from the earth into space for 4-5 min minutes. Virgin Galactic has already got 600 bookings at $ 250,000 a seat for future flights.
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is not far behind. Bezos and his team fly into space on July 20th. And Bezos is offering to take his travellers aboard his plane New Shepard beyond the KARMAN LINE, which is 100 km from the earth! One seat on this flight which was auctioned was sold for a whopping $28 million!
The third billionaire, Elon Musk is waiting to send his private flight up in September. He has not yet announced if he too will board the maiden flight. Space X will do more than just send tourists up into space and back. Space X will offer an orbit around the earth!
Burning billions for a short-lived thrill
The space madness of these billionaires has been criticised by many. There are more important problems facing the world- Hunger, climate change, Covid pandemic. Many feel that space tourism is only for the very very rich. Perhaps, it is. But, every scientific breakthrough, which may look unnecessary in the beginning, brings some improvement to our lives. Jeff Bezos, for example, has announced that the $ 28 million from seat auction will go to fund research into living in space.
And, this race to space of billionaires like Musk, Branson, and Bezos, keeps the spirit of the explorer and the adventurer alive in us. At some point in the future space travel will become affordable and quite a common activity. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing the earth from outer space.