Sunday, 19 January 2020

Space, Man...cont...


SPACE, MAN…CONT…

 

When you’re starting a new year, it’s difficult to decide where to start in terms of travel trends.  What we wanted to do was uphold the values we extolled in our pre-blog blog…or plog, if you will:  what we do not want to do is bang on about New Year new you.  So we’re going to save all the health trends and get-fit trends for another time…

 

Something we want to continue to do this year, as we hopefully achieved last year, is to take you away.  To transport you to a different place and, as you’re reading this blog on a Sunday afternoon on your sofa, take you away from the ordinary without you having to move a muscle.



 

As it’s been in the news recently, indeed, as we write, we decided to re-visit Space…because, why not?  It was our first ever Travel Trend (https://www.traveltrendsbyglobalgreathotels.co.uk/2019/01/space-man.html) Are we going to Space or are we not?  Are we any further forward 12 months later?  So buckle up, astronauts, have a click on this to get you in the mood:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YwFvmnbj3E and let’s see what’s occurring!

 

In our previous post, we noted that things were getting close and indeed it looked like Branson was going to win the newly discovered ‘space race’.  However we came to the conclusion that just going 50 miles up into the atmosphere to achieve weightlessness and possibly to spin a couple of somersaults wasn’t actually what we meant when going into space, and yes, you would be officially classed as an astronaut but still, it wasn’t really going the whole hog.  We decided that Jeff Bezos’ (Amazon) Blue Origin ship (the New Shepard) looked the most impressive, with enormous windows so that you could observe the Blue Planet itself at its best, but you weren’t going any further either.  We also concluded that Elon Musk’s SpaceX was the most authentic, with actual trips round Mars planned. 

 

How about now?  Who’s winning the race?  It cannot be lost on anyone observing that really, when you think about it, it’s not Russia v USA anymore, but it is a race amongst three of the world’s biggest billionaire entrepreneurs…Should we be worried?  Or shall we just go on a Space Holiday and enjoy it because there’s nothing we can do about it anyway…

 

Virgin Galactic:


 Image result for richard branson space suit


In typical Branson style, he has forged on and in a massive way.  During the last 12 months he has merged with a company called Social Capital Hedosophia holding company owned by Chamath Palihapitiya…an early senior exec at Facebook (make of that what you will) with a $800 million investment in Virgin Galactic.  Did you know, as an aside, that Branson actually has two space companies?  Didn’t realise that…the other one is called Virgin Orbit and intends to provide orbital commercial small satellite launch capabilities…who knew!  This merger triggered Virgin Galactic to become the first commercial space flight company to be listed on the stock market.

 

The time-scale is now set for set for the second half of this year if it is stuck to and Branson has recently debuted the special space suits that the passengers will wear.  The price has gone up slightly, as we noted before it was £170,000 but now reports say it’s $250,000 which today means £192,000…guess those new space suits are expensive…

 

The guest list has also gone down to 600 from the 700 we reported last year, but there is a waiting list of 3,700 people.  In terms of the money, based on the level of high net worth individuals and realistic figures, the company is projecting that by 2023 revenues will exceed $590 million.  Branson, in typical Branson style, is in all fairness, still reported in the press to be saying that he intends, within the next decade, to bring the ticket price down to the £30k mark…so there’s hope for the rest of us yet!

Image result for richard branson space travel

 

On that note, and it is worth nothing this here:  it must be remembered that air travel was once the preserve of the top 1%, so let’s not be too critical of space travel.  As air travel is now open to everyone and anyone, so, potentially, will space.

 

Blue Origin:

 

Did you know that last year Jeff Bezos became the richest person since people began writing it down?  He is now worth over $150 billion.  Who cares?  Well, what it means for his company, Blue Origin, is that he can pump at least a billion dollars into it from Amazon every year, and that is what he is doing. 

Image result for blue origin

 

Are we any further forward than we were last time?  The short answer is ‘not really’.  Yes, tickets are expected to cost the same roughly as Virgin, and yes the list is about as long, and potentially it will happen by the end of this year, but Bezos is characteristically tight-lipped.

 

What is interesting, and perhaps this is where the War of the Worlds theme comes back in, is that Bezos, like Tesla, is branching into far more complex projects.  We mustn’t forget that Branson, equally, has Virgin Orbit, Bezos has another project going on.  This one bases itself in the theory that since the earth is running out of resources, we, as the human race, seriously need to get out.  Ergo we will all be living in space, and will visit earth like one does a national park, looking at it as a place for relaxation and holiday, rather than living here and battering the hell out of it as we are currently doing.

 

SpaceX:

 
Image result for spacex

Right, well Elon Musk (apart from that disastrous practical demonstration on the Cybertruck https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Q3uaepRCl4) has moved on since our last post.  Sure his excited passengers are still clamouring for their trip which is still planned for 2023 and has even acquired a hash-tag since we last reported:  #dearMoon and it is still as we observed last time:  a real space trip.  Six days rather than the 90 minute offerings of Virgin and Blue Origin, and they will genuinely complete a singular circumlunar trajectory around the moon which I think we can all agree is what we think of when we think of ‘going into space.’  Bottom line, all is still on course for 2023.

However, what prompted us to have another look at his subject today is that today is the very day that SpaceX are doing something very important:  they are today launching a live safety test that will destroy the rocket.  Why?  Because they have been hired by NASA to build rockets and capsules to carry astronauts into space, rather than NASA doing it themselves.  Today, SpaceX are trialling a sort of modern-day ejector capsule which can remove astronauts from an exploding rocket on take-off, a source of huge past problems, hence seeing them on their way to make space travel inexorably safer.  As we type they are experiencing some weather difficulties, but the time is set for 2pm local time.
Image result for spacex

We’re not talking about tourism any more, though.  SpaceX, who have teamed up with Boeing, are now effectively private companies heading up the latest innovations within NASA.  Is this a good thing?  Will Bezos soon be involved too?  Does it matter?

All these questions lead us round to perhaps the fact that a year on, in real terms, we’re not actually any further forward and indeed, we come to the conclusion that is identical:  for a realistic and what technically is a visit to space, the first missions will probably happen in the latter part of this year with Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.  Branson, typically still throwing the bone that in 10 years or so we might all be able to afford it.  But the fact remains, you’re going on a 90 min jaunt to get a bit weightless.

SpaceX are maintaining their programme for our Japanese billionaire and his artist friends in 2023 to take them round the moon which is precisely what the majority of us think of when we think of space travel, for an undisclosed sum.  The question is, will SpaceX abandon all this in favour of the commercial gain of being in charge of NASA’s rockets? 

Who knows, it’s Space, man.
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