Commercial Space Travel

Would you want to take a commercial flight to space? The ‘impossible’ (commercial space travel) is nearer than we thought. Virgin airlines found their answer to safe commercial space travel with 3D printing.

“To date, a total of 565 people have gone to space. But that could change very soon as long-awaited commercial spaceflights might be launching next year. After years of delay, Virgin Galactic has recently announced that 2020 could finally be the year anyone (that is, anyone who can pay the $250,000 ticket) will be able to view the Earth from space. That’s basically what Richard Branson, philanthropist, space enthusiast and founder of the Virgin conglomerate, really wants: a chance for non-astronauts to visit the outer limits of our planet.

Back in 2016, Branson expressed his desire for ‘millions and millions of people out there who would love to become astronauts’ to have a chance to travel to orbit.

‘If we can make it environmentally friendly, if we can make it affordable and if we can make it safe, then in time your children and my grandchildren will all have the chance to go to space.’

Actually, he plans to be part of the crew on the first Virgin Galactic spacecraft launching next year; he even has the new space gear to travel, thanks to a recent partnership with Under Armour.

But Branson’s vision of moving his branding into space also involves the creation of a launch service for small satellites, which is why in 2017, the entrepreneur decided to form Virgin Orbit as a stand-alone firm spinning out of Virgin Galactic. The company will focus on the small satellite business, also called ‘smallsats’, nanosats or CubeSats, which is expected to reach $15.69 billion globally by 2026. Not a bad bet, considering they are forecasted to be a game-changer in the commercialization of space. Unlike Virgin Galactic, which is looking to transport people to space, Virgin Orbit will most likely move quicker, and even though their business plan revolves around launching small- to medium-sized satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) with a rocket, they have plans to go even farther.”

Would you be shocked to know that Virgin Orbit has contracts and pricing set in place for these services? Though specifics have not yet been made public , we do know that Silicon Valley and several government agencies are on the ball. Branson is appearing to be quite progressive with his approaches. With keeping the health of the environment in mind in addition to using 3D printing as the manufacturing technology for the rocket’s parts.

“Last May, NASA centers partnered with Virgin Orbit to develop and test a uniquely manufactured rocket part. Experts in combustion and additive manufacturing created a 3D printed combustion chamber that combines multiple materials and takes advantage of cutting-edge manufacturing processes.”

More details about commercial space traffic and specifically its relationship with additive manufacturing technology can be read in the full article.

Categories: Aerospace, Innovation