Image by Virgin Galactic
Last year was not a bad year for space tourism, with Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity making its first successful glide flight and Blue Origin’s reusable rocket New Shepard making a couple more trips. Luckily 2017 however is looking to make a much bigger impact. And it’s about time.
Virgin Galactic will continue with its glide flights. Last years test was one of many to come. The more they can do this year, the more data can be collected. Each test will likely be under different circumstances. With almost 800 tickets sold so far ($250,000 each), and the possible $300 million Richard Brandson’s Virgin Group raised from its existing shareholders, this year could mean Virgin Galactic moves closer towards their next step: rocket-powered flights.
Blue Origin‘s owner Jeff Bezos claimed last year they wanted manned test missions in 2017. However to make that happen, we are going to have to see a lot more test flights soon. Last year we saw four successful flights up to 330,000+ feet (reaching space) before landing again safely. But before Blue Origin puts any people inside the capsule, they will likely want to do a lot more test flights. Being able to use a New Shepard rocket once a month, would already be a big step. Actually reaching their ambitious target of putting people in space by the end of 2017 would be huge.
Image by World View
If rockets aren’t your thing, or you want to spend a lot less money, then high-altitude balloons are also an option. World View has had a busy year. After raising $15 million and moving to a new location, Spaceport Tucson, World View anticipates launching its balloons in 2017. Now that a 1/10th scale passenger capsule has been brought to over 100,000 feet altitude, the next step is bringing their full scale Voyager module up to this altitude and land safely.
Image by Zero 2 Infinity
The Spanish company Zero 2 Infinity and their Bloon balloon are planning on starting commercial flights in 2018. That also means a lot of near space testing for them. And they are off to a good start this year: after revealing a new logo and the Bloon capsule, they are already out there busy testing.
With timelines being very optimistic and many of these companies continuously pivoting, who knows what 2017 will actually bring. Only one thing is for sure, after the year is over, we will be another year closer. Get ready!
Can’t wait for these sub-orbital flights? 2017 will have a lot of zero gravity flights that let you experience weightlessness right now.