Virgin Galactic plans to fly one more test flight before beginning to offer seats in early 2022 to the roughly 600 people who have already bought tickets for between $200,000 and $250,000 — or about the median home price in the United States. The company is also accepting reservations for new tickets that are expected to sell at an even higher price point.
But that’s far from all these billionaires have planned in outer space.
The big vision
For Bezos, Blue Origin’s suborbital tourism missions are merely a bridge to much grander ambitions for cosmic adventure. In his view, Earthly civilizations are headed for an energy-supply crisis that can only be solved by harnessing extraterrestrial resources. And, according to Bezos, “we really have to move heavy industry and polluting industry” — things like energy and microchip production — “off Earth.”
Branson, meanwhile, hopes his high-flying space plane technology can be parlayed into a hypersonic point-to-point travel business, shuttling passengers across the globe in a fraction of the time it would take them on a more traditional commercial aircraft.
Then there’s Musk, whose SpaceX is already building and testing a gargantuan rocket that he envisions will carry the first humans to Mars and give humanity the means to establish a permanent settlement there.
In the meantime, Branson, Bezos and Musk hope their otherworldly pursuits inspire a new generation of curious space explorers and entrepreneurs. And there were plenty of people cheering Bezos and Branson on during their supersonic joy rides in recent days. But those voices were met with cries of displeasure at equal decibels.
But if Bezos, Branson and Musk want to save humanity, they first have to convince humanity. And they will have to answer many questions about their character and motives if they want humanity to trust that the goal of these efforts is to lead it to a survivable future.