When Yuri Gagarin became the first man to set foot in space, little did he know that in another 60 years, space tourism would be one of the most flourishing industries, globally. During this first voyage to space, three people took the orbital flight in the spacecraft Vostok 1, after which Alan Shepard became the first American and Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian to set foot in space.
But in this year, billionaires took to the sky-quite literally. What seemed like a gigantic and breakthrough effort in olden times is now becoming a norm with space tourism gaining momentum. With the likes of Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos jetting of to space, this industry is no longer being confined to governments only.
Let’s take a look at who made news by going into space this year.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that was prepared with the intention of orbiting the globe, took of from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida carrying four civilians. It was the rocket’s first mission. The civilians were- Founder and CEO of Shift4Payments-Jared Isaacman, a physician assistant at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital-Hayley Arceneaux, a trained pilot, entrepreneur and educator- Dr Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski, a data engineer at Lockheed Martin Corp.
Japanese fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa collaborated with food delivery platform Uber Eats to deliver Canned Japanese food in to space, for astronauts at the International Space station. He went in a Soyuz spacecraft for a 12-day mission and Uber Eats made history by being the first to deliver food into space.
3. Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko
Russian actor Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko became the first actor and director respectively to set foot in space. They were sent to shoot a film titled “Vyzov” and spent 12 days shooting.
4. Jeff Bezos
This year on July 20th, a Blue Origin capsule carrying Jeff, his brother Mark, a high school graduate and an 82-year old female pilot returned from space, as shown by the company’s live broadcast.
Blue origin which is owned by Jeff Bezos also sent Canadian actor William Shatner to the Karman Line for a brief period.
5. Richard Branson and Sirisha Bandla
July 11, 2021 saw British billionaire Richard Branson along with Sirisha Bandla and four other crew members in Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity, that took off for the 1.5-hour mission above New Mexico from the Spaceport America launch facility. The rocket reached a height of around 53 miles beyond space boundary and all on board experienced weightlessness. On accomplishing this feat, Branson addressed during a live feed “Congratulations to all our wonderful team at Virgin Galactic for 17 years of hard work to get us this far”. Even Sirisha said “I am taking a bit of India up there with me”
With all these example of people travelling into space, the day when everyone will be able to take a trip to space is not far away.