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HomeTechCommercial space travel is here. Now what?

Commercial space travel is here. Now what?

The Virgin WhiteKnightTwo mothership, carrying SpaceShipTwo, flies over in October 2010 during an event commemorating the completion of the Virgin Galactic Spaceport America runway in New Mexico.

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“We as humans have looked at the stars for as long as we are conscious. And the idea of ​​getting close to them is something that people dream of.” That’s Chris Daehnick, associate partner of McKinsey, talking about the rise of commercial space travel, specifically the fledgling space tourism industry.

Space travel may be a dream shared by many, but stargazing as a civilian is currently accessible only to the ultra-wealthy few. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and the richest person in the world, and Richard BransonBritish billionaire and founder of Virgin Galactic ventured into low-Earth orbit over the summer and is starting to offer tickets to space on their respective rockets for an exorbitant price.

Daehnick leads an analytics team at McKinsey that focuses on the aerospace and defense industry, using software that forecast satellite launches and production, among other things. In your article Wall Street to Mission Control: Can Space Tourism Pay Off?, published in The Wall Street Journal, argues that the commercialization of space is not just about sending the elite on extraterrestrial excursions.

“But what is really new, in the last five years,” says Daehnick, “is this increase in completely private companies to provide trips to orbit or near orbit, which would be done for purposes other than research or the purpose. scientists “.

Instead, he continues, the commercial space industry is about transitioning the space industry from one that is only supported by the government to something self-sufficient, with private companies investing in rockets, equipment and experiments in space.

Until the early 2000s, government-funded agencies, including NASA and the European Space Agency, heavily sponsored space travel, research, and development. Now, these agencies are increasingly looking to the private sector to help, or more often, to lead the development of innovative technologies for deeper missions on the final frontier.

Daehnick notes that it is unclear if there is a real market for space tourism, due to its inaccessibility. But the general drive to seek business opportunities in space is driven by the impressive appeal of the space itself.

“Sputnik, the first launch of an artificial Earth satellite, fueled this huge wave of science and math education in the United States,” says Daehnick. “And that, in turn, generated a lot of people who went on to be entrepreneurs or do technical things. You could argue that many of the founders of those companies probably, in some way, were inspired by that initial energy.”

Daehnick spoke with CNET’s Sophia Fox-Sowell, sharing a wealth of knowledge about the growing commercial space industry and how space tourism could affect the economy. Check out their entire conversation in the video above.

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