The New Space Race? Why Are SpaceX and Boeing Flying People to Space Alongside NASA?

Published June 4th, 2020 - 03:00 GMT
The New Space Race? Why Are SpaceX and Boeing Flying People to Space Alongside NASA?
The old space race between the US and the USSR in the 1950s had accelerated space missions. (AFP)

Who hasn't dreamed of traveling to space, exploring the moon, Mars, and maybe a more colorful planet like Jupiter?

For decades, human space travel missions have been largely limited to astronauts and scientists trying to study the different objects around planet Earth and exploring whether or not the outer space can be the new human habitat.

The old space race between the USA and the USSR in the 1950s had accelerated space missions and pushed scientists to put their hardest work into exploring the rest of the galaxy, with goals mainly revolving around scientific research, political supremacy, and the possibility of life on other planets.

Yet, successful tasks are now triggering more curious and less scientific experiences, including non-astronauts wishing to tour in the space once it's possible.

Between 2001-2009, Russia and US-based Space Adventures ran several space trips carrying non-scientist tourists, costing somewhere between $20–25 million per trip. These trips were halted in 2010 due to the increase in the International Space Station crew size and they haven't been resumed ever since.

Not only does the American successful launch of Crew Dragon this week mark its first manned mission since 2011, it also marks the very first private trip to the International Space Station, as Elon Musk's 2003 plans finally come into work through his company SpaceX, in cooperation with NASA.

In a 2003 Forbes interview where he was dubbed as "Rocket Man," Musk speaks with clear excitement and determination about his plans to test whether the space is a good place to create a livable environment or not. 

Similarly, Boeing has been building its own spacecraft in what could soon be the SpaceX vs Boeing space race.

According to a report by the Verge, Boeing's CST-100 Starliner crew capsule has been in development for years in preparation for commercial space flights, and despite several glitches that keep delaying their first attempt, the future of human travel to space might soon take a whole new shift.

SpaceX's first flight has prompted discussions on space travel privatization and whether space tourism will soon become the new norm, especially as it's expected to become more and more affordable the more routinely it takes place, considering the increasing competition between companies.

This also makes us wonder when China, Russia, and other world powers with strong space background will consider similar steps to boost their space presence.

In addition to several historic events that have rocked our world during 2020, this year is likely to also be remembered as the first year of active space tourism in human history, and possibly the start of a new international space race.

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