Virgin Galactic’s Role in the Space Economy
Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight company founded by Sir Richard Branson, has been making headlines for its ambitious plans to take tourists to space. However, the company’s impact on the space economy goes beyond just space tourism. In fact, Virgin Galactic is playing a significant role in shaping the future of space exploration and the space economy.
One of the ways Virgin Galactic is contributing to the space economy is through its partnership with NASA. In May 2020, the company announced that it had signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to develop a program to train private astronauts for missions to the International Space Station (ISS). This partnership not only opens up new opportunities for private citizens to travel to space but also helps NASA to offset the cost of maintaining the ISS.
Virgin Galactic is also working on developing a new spacecraft, the SpaceShipThree, which will be capable of carrying up to eight people to space. This new spacecraft will be an improvement on the SpaceShipTwo, which is currently used for suborbital flights. The SpaceShipThree will be able to reach higher altitudes and will have a larger cabin, making it more suitable for longer-duration missions. This development will not only benefit Virgin Galactic’s space tourism business but also has the potential to open up new opportunities for scientific research and commercial applications in space.
Another way Virgin Galactic is contributing to the space economy is through its involvement in the development of spaceports. The company is currently building its own spaceport in New Mexico, which will serve as the launch site for its space tourism flights. However, the company is also working with other companies and governments to develop spaceports around the world. These spaceports will not only benefit Virgin Galactic’s business but also provide infrastructure for other space companies to launch their own missions.
Virgin Galactic’s impact on the space economy goes beyond just its own business. The company is also helping to create a new industry of space tourism, which has the potential to generate significant revenue and create jobs. According to a report by the Tauri Group, the space tourism industry could be worth $3 billion by 2030. This industry could also create thousands of jobs in areas such as spacecraft manufacturing, spaceport operations, and tourism services.
In addition to space tourism, Virgin Galactic is also exploring other commercial applications for space. The company has partnered with the Italian aerospace company Sitael to develop a small satellite launcher called LauncherOne. This launcher will be able to carry small satellites into orbit, providing a more cost-effective way for companies to launch their own satellites. This development has the potential to revolutionize the satellite industry and create new opportunities for companies to collect data and provide services from space.
In conclusion, Virgin Galactic’s impact on the space economy goes beyond just space tourism. The company’s partnerships with NASA, development of new spacecraft, involvement in spaceport development, and exploration of commercial applications for space are all contributing to the growth of the space economy. As the space industry continues to evolve, Virgin Galactic’s role in shaping its future will be crucial.