Blue Origin Traveled to Space
Earlier this week, Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) founder and CEO and one of the richest people in the world, Jeff Bezos, traveled to space and back.
He traveled with three other people on Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle. Blue Origin is another company founded by Bezos. This week's trip to space wasn’t a long one.
The planned 11-minute flight included Bezos; his brother, Mark; 82-year-old female aviator Wally Funk; and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen. Funk is now the oldest person to fly into space and Daemen is the youngest.
This flight was unique for a couple of reasons. It had “normal” people on board the spacecraft instead of trained astronauts. The New Shepard was designed to take its crew past the Kármán line, which is the internationally recognized boundary between Earth's atmosphere and space — at about 330,000 feet above the Earth.
This trip has set the precedent for the types of possibilities that the future will hold, especially when it comes to space travel for consumers or everyday people like you and me. Of course, it would be a hefty price to get those consumers into space, but nonetheless, this trip from Blue Origin has opened the door to many possibilities.
A New Future in Space?
It opens doors to not only those consumers who are willing to pay the price tag to get to space, but also researchers and other professionals who have been wanting to study and better understand space and life in space but haven’t had the opportunity. Up until now, it was left to astronauts to conduct research, and as of the last few decades, the number of trips to space has been at a minimum.
It’s been the month to push boundaries when it comes to space travel. Bezos wasn’t the only billionaire who made it to space this month. Virgin Galactic’s CEO, Richard Branson, took flight earlier this month in his company’s vehicle, SpaceShipTwo. SpaceShipTwo reached an altitude of about 282,000 feet, which surpassed NASA’s designated Earth-space boundary of 50 miles, but didn’t make it to the Kármán line like the New Shepard spacecraft was able to do this week.
According to CNBC, Jeff Bezos announced on Tuesday that "Blue Origin has sold nearly $100 million worth of tickets for future passenger flights to the edge of space." Bezos said, “The demand is very very high.” Blue Origin hasn’t disclosed how much exactly the seats on its New Shepard spacecraft cost. Bezos also announced that Blue Origin will be flying human missions two more times this year. Bezos said:
We really do want to practice with this vehicle, so we’re going to have to build more boosters… to fly more frequently.
Bezos and Branson are attempting to tap into the potentially lucrative market of space tourism — and they both might be on to something.
After all, both are billionaires, and to keep earning those billions they need to be ahead of the curve and know when new markets are emerging and if they will or can become lucrative. Analysts at the investment bank UBS had this to say about space tourism:
While space tourism is still nascent, we think it will become mainstream as the technology becomes proven and costs fall. By 2030, we estimate space tourism will be a $3 billion-plus opportunity growing at double-digit rates.
The bank continued:
Like many other new disruptive segments (e.g., internet, digital photography), it is not the risk-averse incumbents that are the first movers, but new players.
It’s hard to tell how likely all of this is and whether in nine years the space tourism market would be worth $3 billion and growing at double-digit rates. However, I do believe that there is something worth noting and even paying attention to in the next few years — if Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is able to successfully take multiple missions to space with humans this year and in the years to come, then that market valuation and expected growth rate could be possible.
With all that being said, this is just the beginning. There are a lot of concerns that will be raised in the years to come about space tourism and traveling and the type of environmental impact it will have on the Earth.
While these two flights to space in the past month did make history, there are a lot of people who don’t agree with having billionaires creating a business plan around space and taking privileged people to space. There is still a lot to unravel about whether space tourism has a place in our society and whether it can really be viable, and all that will happen in the next few years.
Until next time,