SHIP OF THE WORLD : A New Era of Space Exploration
“All civilizations become either spacefaring or extinct.”
CARL SAGAN, Pale Blue Dot
Humanity has looked up at the stars for millennia, and from it have birthed some of the greatest questions that man has faced. Some of these questions such as, are we alone? Is there intelligent life outside our planet? Are there inhabitable planets beyond our solar system? Can only be answered through expedition.
In order to conclusively answer these questions, we would need to leave our planet. We’re a long way away from being a space-faring species both technologically and ideologically (Spacefaring: the action or activity of traveling in space.) However, on this journey to becoming a multi-planetary species are many intermediary steps that need to be undertaken in order for it to be possible to reach beyond the outer rim of our solar system.
One baby step towards this goal is arguably “space tourism”. That is the ability for regular people to be able to travel into space for no reason greater than because it’s really cool to do. Now for a privileged few, they can take a part in the first steps to establishing a space tourism industry by visiting the International Space Station.
NASA has recently announced that for a mere $50m two lucky astronauts per year can take a trip to the international space station for a once in a lifetime holiday of about 30 days. NASA hopes that with this new revenue stream they will be able to reduce the operating costs of the international space station. This, of course, is only now starting to be made possible because of the significant reduction in payload cost; thanks to SpaceX’s absolutely mind-blowing reusable Falcon 9 rockets.
With traditional rockets, one of the most expensive costs is the first stage booster. This is the huge rocket that gives the payload enough velocity to escape Earth’s gravity and takes a huge amount of energy. A huge amount of energy usually also means very big in size, and very big in size means very expensive too (I know I’m dumbing it down a lot but that’s the general gist of it) With the advent of reusable first stage rocket boosters you are no longer losing that investment with each launch but rather spreading that cost over multiple launches bringing the total cost of multiple missions way down. How far down? About 30% cheaper than their non-reusable counterparts. “A Mission traditionally cost customers $62m and SpaceX has slashed that down to about $46.5m.”
As the technology and the industry matures, we should see that number come down even further. Especially as more competitors start to move into the market such as Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, and to a lesser extent, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic; the space tourism market could one day dip into the realms of affordability. Maybe it won’t be in the price range of most families but for a few more than just billionaires, it might just be a lifetime’s worth of savings to go and experience weightlessness once in their lives.
I don’t know if it will be in our lifetime that we will see affordable space tourism but if one thing for sure is that its an industry that will be built on billionaires as, for now, they will be the only ones who can afford to bear the still-high costs associated with escaping our atmosphere.
SpaceX though does have plans to cut the amount of time it takes to fly long haul. SpaceX is creating a rocket called Star Ship; a passenger rocket that will fly at up to 18,000mph in the upper atmosphere flying the main long haul flight routes and reducing the amount of time it takes to transit around the earth drastically. A flight from London to Sydney could take as little as 51 minutes. Compared to the current 24hrs it typically takes with a stopover this could be a real game changer and the first form of mass consumer space flight that is truly affordable to the masses.
The true hope for us plebeians are startups. There is a number of startups looking to bring affordable space tourism to the world and one such startup is MuSpace. MuSpace is a groundbreaking space technology company that is already delivering reliable satellite-based broadband, mobile and broadcasting solutions for telcos and businesses in Thailand and Asia Pacific Region. MuSpace though have also set their sights on much grander ambitions and looks to enable the next generation of space tourism. Codename “00 Mission” is MuSpace’s grand design to develop and launch space missions that will open space to everyone and fulfil humanity’s ultimate desire to live beyond gravity and towards the next frontier. Of all the startups out there looking to achieve this goal, MuSpace is an interesting one to keep your eye on as they already have proven their ability to innovate by bringing several technologies to market and providing internet to maritime and aviation industries and also to remote markets previously inaccessible; cutting their teeth in the space industry and delivering satellite-based technologies. Definitely, a company to keep your eye on and maybe sometime soon we’ll be taking a trip on a MuSpace rocket into Low Earth orbit.
Here at Detekt, we are ambitious and set our sights as high as possible. We love to work with innovators who do the same, and there is probably no higher sight than the stars themselves. We admire those who break ground, we celebrate those who break through, but we worship those of us who break what we think is even possible. Though it may not be for generations we admire those who are laying the foundations for others to build upon and to create the infrastructure necessary for us to leave our planet. Contact Detekt to see how we can help you lay that foundation so that we might challenge what is possible.